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368 Western American Literature You,” Dennis Tedlock’s The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation, or in viewing Larry Evers’s videotaped series, Words and Places. The stories in the Erdoes/Ortiz collection are Anglicized, condensed versions shorn of any real reference to time, place, and circumstance of telling. The meta-narrative elements such as pauses, silences, variations in tone, repetition of phrases, and framing formulae peculiar to Indian narrative have also been eliminated. The selections, without their situational or performance contexts, soon begin to run together, and the reader is overwhelmed by the massive volume rather than impressed by the unique aspects of each tale which should have been there. The reader may suspect that American Indian Myths and Legends is a collection of old notes that had not been used anywhere else by Erdoes or Ortiz. These two anthologies prompt us to re-evaluate the editor’s role in com­ piling an anthology. Jamake Highwater eloquently articulates his purpose and carefully choose his selections. The Erdoes/Ortiz collection is loosely organized with no precisely stated goal. GRETCHEN RONNOW The University of Arizona We Are Not In This Together. By William Kittredge. Edited and with a foreword by Raymond Carver. (Port Townsend, Washington: Graywolf Press, 1984. 128 pages, $6.00.) Graywolf Press has issued a new collection of short stories by William Kittredge. Three of the stories are from The Van Gogh Field and Other Stories, published by the University of Missouri in 1977; the rest are published for the first time. For those who have been waiting anxiously, this is good news. This volume is part of a short fiction series to be developed by Graywolf and it makes a wonderful beginning, setting a high standard for the rest of the series to match. As earlier stories of Kittredge’s were, these are set in the West. But this is not the West of mythical cowboy heroes. Yes, the country ishere: beautiful, bleak, demanding; revealing its timeless aspects on the sides of buttes rather than in thousand-year-old cathedrals or rotting castles. And the men and women of these stories are as evil or heroic as any in L’Amour. But the heroism is of a different order. There is courage, but it is more often displayed by endurance than by action, by thoughtfulness than activity. It is almost as if what is most required when facing danger, betrayal, death—what is required not only by circumstance but by the land itself—is to wait; to stop, take a deep breath, look closely, think hard: the approach of the still hunter when the signs go wrong or disappear. The strong people in these stories who survive, and in the process achieve something more than mere survival, are slow to act. They tend to be like the land: scarred, enduring, silent; and the stories they live in are like the land at dusk, filled with subtleties of color and light. Reviews 369 But if the people in these stories are cautious and slow to act, the language is neither. It moves full-tilt, often lyrically, the adjectives few, the verbs active and direct, the writer careful and aware of what the language may yield. The style isflowing and pulls one along as surely as the Missouri, yet it isfrequently abrupt. It has sudden jolts and stops. If sentences were horses, a salescatalog might describe these as “by Hemingway, out of Faulkner.” But the language is clearly Kittredge’sown, and it has a powerful effect. Though they contain violence, these are not stories about violence. They are stories about the impact of the environment and events upon the human spirit, the way we act toward the world and one another, how we live and the ways we die. This is classical material, developed in stories scored by com­ passion and wonder. Under it all lies the author’s love for his characters and his wonder at their power to endure. The pain that besets his people reminds us of those exceptional folks we all know whose lives seemed doomed from the beginning, who suffer more than we think we could bear. These stories are Faulkner-like in this...


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pp. 368-369
Launched on MUSE
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