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Reviews 193 yarn with this avowal of honest intent: “I’m not figuring on getting married or running for office, so I might as well tell you the exact truth about my age and anything else you care to ask me about. ... So as not to give a one­ sided picture, I am going to tell you the things that are not creditable about myself as well as the things that are.” So, as Twain himself might say, “There you are.” Many of Lockley’s old-timers recall with immediate detail the actual crossing; they recall their ages at the time, their physical conditions, their duties on the journey. At the age of 91 an informant remembers that “I was in my 17th year when we crossed the plains.” He goes on, “My job was to drive the loose cattle, and if youwant to knowwhat dust isjust drive a bunch of loose cattle on a windy day.” In a similar vein a former mayor of Barlow, Oregon calls to mind his trek: “In the spring of 1850 my stepfather, my mother, and their three broods of children started in a prairie schooner for Oregon. I was six years old, so I remember many incidents of our trip.” And it is with equal immediacy that the old-timers remember why they crossed the plains. The Promised Land. That was it, a lusting after the Idea of the far West made these people, to paraphrase Robert Frost, the West’s before the West was theirs. For all that has been written about the West as the principal symbol for the American Dream, there is more than enough corroboration in the memoirs of this community of bullwhackers, muleskinners, pioneers and all other sorts and conditions of men and women. LONNIE L. WILLIS Boise State University The Land of the Long Shadow. By Oliver Lange. (New York: Seaview Books, 1981. 323 pages, $12.95.) There are many “long shadows” cast by Oliver Lange’s latest novel, The Land of the Long Shadow. Which is to say, it is a memorable novel, a beautiful evocation and affirmation of the human need for recognition and love — for dignity in the serenity which comes with a sense of self finally at home in the solitudes of the Southwest. Lange’s is a simple story, not much “plot” in the sense of high and mighty conflicts to be resolved. His characters too are not important in any eyes-of-the-world way, although they are at once fascinatingly unique and representative, and extremely significant in their own sphere, in their own place — which not incidentally is north Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Lange’s is the kind of powerfully understated novel, taken all in all (and in spite of the book’s 6'9" giant of a protagonist, Roy Aldous Gutier­ 194 Western American Literature rez), reminiscent of the effects of William Maxwell at his novelistic best, or of Ivan Doig’s recent memoir of his father, This House of Sky. In a way, what Maxwell has done for the Midwest in his fiction, what Doig has done for Montana and the Rocky Mountain West — bringing to life their char­ acter and characters, their “spirit of place,” — Lange now does for the Southwest, for New Mexico, the locale which in his metaphorical tribute he calls “the land of the long shadow.” As the grandson and heir to interracial, multi-cultural ancestry, Roy Gutierrez, at the age of 56 during the novel’s main storyline of the contem­ porary present, finds himself through both remembrances and new experi­ ences, old friends and new lovers, and finally comes to terms with his almost freakishly large stature and his splotched skin (the condition known clinically as leukoderma or the loss of melanin from the skin). In the process he settles an old score and stops, aided by his gunfighter grandfather’s pistol, the harassments of Bill “Evil” Maldonado, a punk rodeo cowboy who possibly is Roy’s half-brother. Moreover, Gutierrez decides the contest for the exploita­ tion of his town by fast-operator Neil Larson and his Sun-Belt schemes for “re-creational” land development and his opposition, the fusty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 193-194
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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