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372 Western American Literature the reader as sometimes they may lie to themselves.” Yet even her self-deluding, untrustworthy, damaged or ambivalent narrators manage to uncover truths. Atwood, as trickster-author, likes disguises, mystery, witchcraft; she wants her readers to do a bit of sleuthing. This does not mean that the reader must wade through obscure symbols and esoteric language. It is more like solving a mystery or a puzzle, more like Jungian analysis of complex layers of person­ ality, more like unearthing strata of meaning as in an archeological dig. Even language itself is suspect; “the true story is vicious / and multiple and untrue / after a ll. . .” Atwood writes in True Stories. Rigney never loses sight of the fact that she is dealing with a shrewd author—one who likes disguises for her characters and also for herself, “. . . that’s me in the dark,” writes Atwood in Murder in the Dark. “Just remember this when the scream has ended and you’ve turned out the lights: by the rules of the game I must always lie.” There is a mystery element in all that Atwood writes, and Rigney—she is a good detective. HELEN CANNON Utah State University Selected One-Act Plays of Horton Foote. Edited by Gerald C. Wood. (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1989. xxviii+507 pages, $29.95/$14.95.) Horton Foote has become the foremost playwright of Texas and one of the most important dramatists in the United States. Probably best known for his successful screenplays—To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Baby, the Rain Must Fall (1964), Tomorrow (1972), Tender Mercies (1983), The Trip to Bountiful (1985), and The Story of a Marriage (1987) — Foote also wrote for television during the 1950s and early 1960s. Of the seventeen one-act dramas that Gerald Wood has selected for this collection, Foote had completed eight before 1955 and he wrote the other nine in the 1980s. Together, these plays justify the laudatory general introduction by Wood, who also provides a per­ ceptive brief introduction for each play. A chronology, a selected bibliography, and a brief but informative “Author’s Preface” help to make the volume a reader’s delight. Yet even though some of the plays might be called comedies and all of them are enjoyable to read, Foote never gives a happy-ever-after ending, and his vision is insistently realistic, almost naturalistic in some of his more recent work. In “The One-Armed Man” (1985), for example, Ned McHenry shoots and kills C. W. Rowe, his former employer, because Rowe can’t return the arm that Ned lost while working in Rowe’s cotton gin. Except for the lost souls of that play and a few of the others, the best of Foote’s characters, as Wood notes, “face themselves and their life situations, which are never ideal or even just, with realism and courage” (234). If the more recent plays are angrier, it is because, Wood says, “Like Chekhov, Foote dramatizes worlds in transition, and his sympathies are clearly with the more orderly and traditional ways which are fast dying out” (393). Reviews 373 What delights, then, is not so much the subject of Foote’s art as it is the artistry of his depiction. “Since the early 1940s,” Wood says, “the plays of Horton Foote have been praised for the truthfulness of their language and characterization, for their realistic portrait of the Coastal Southeast Texas he knows so well. They have been favorably compared with the dramas of Strindberg, Ibsen and Chekhov . . .” (xiii). Amen! JAMES H. MAGUIRE Boise State University Frederic Remington— Selected Letters. Edited by Allen P. Splete and Marilyn D. Splete. (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988. 487 pages, $29.95.) The title of one of Remington’s own books, Men With the Bark On (1900), is better suited to this collection of letters to and from the artist-author than the accurate but unimaginative title it bears. The more than five hundred letters included in the volume give a vivid sense of the man in his times, from his boyhood to his death in 1909. Even as a youth, Remington was a prolific correspondent, and the letters selected, ranging from business...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 372-373
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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