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Reviews 73 Scott Cupp’s “Thirteen Days of Glory” recasts the fall of the Alamo with Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and the other defenders as homosexuals. A some­ what more successful story, David J. Schow’s “Sedalia” repopulates today’s West with dinosaurs. The reader, in turn, is treated to a slice-of-life yarn of cowboys on a dinosaur “cattle” drive. In the title tale, “Razored Saddles,” Robert Petitt depicts a post-holocaust San Antonio where rodeo cowboys ride 40-foot mutant rattlesnakes. A particularly interesting piece, Howard Waldrop’s “The Passing of the Western” presents an “alternate” West with Boise, Idaho, as an “alternate” Hollywood. In the end, Waldrop’s tale proves to be a loving homage to the making of low-budget Westerns in the 1930s. Another truly gentle tale, Gary Raisor’s “Empty Places” has humanoid buffalo creatures from outer space visiting the Great Plains to mourn the death of their ancestors. In “I’m Always Here” by Richard Christian Matheson, the young female admirer of a dying C&W singer has her healthy body medically fused to his so that he might be revitalized. Needless to say, they sing a strange duet on stage. Set in New Mexico, “Eldon’s Penitente” by Lenore Carroll depicts a guilty, middle-aged Anglo carrying a cross through the streets of Santa Fe on Good Friday seeking redemption for his omissions in life. One suspects that editors Lansdale and LoBrutto found the completed Razored Saddles something of a disappointment. Many of the stories have an unfinished feel to them. Some are just plain bad. As for the perils of genre mixing, the late Louis L’Amour’s unsatisfying western-fantasy novel, The Haunted Mesa, is a pretty fair example of what ails many tales in Razored Saddles. The pieces just don’t come together. JAMES B. HEMESATH Adams State College The American West: A Narrative Bibliography and a Study of Regionalism. By Charles F. Wilkinson. (Niwot, Colorado: The University Press of Colorado, 1989. 144 pages, $19.95/$9.95.) A narrative bibliography is even more subjective than an annotated one, for, in addition to selection and summation, the author plots the work accord­ ing to his or her own perception of the story being told. Professor Wilkinson organizes his bibliography into six, roughly equal chapters: “Defining the West,” “The Events,” “The People,” “The Terrain,” “The Ideas,” and “Postscript: A Word for the Future of the West.” He is able to draw these broad areas into manageable perspective in two ways: first, by focusing on what he defines as the “special qualities of the region” and second by admitting the personal, selective nature of his book. “Nor have I provided complete 74 Western American Literature coverage,” Wilkinson informs his reader in the “Preface.” “The books dis­ cussed here are only those that I have read or made myself familiar with as resource works through my research” (vii). I like Wilkinson’s regional, “conceptual” approach because it necessitates an integrated, multidisciplinary combination of materials focusing on what I too feel are the key issues, creating “a spirited and comprehensive sense of historical developments, personalities, cultures, landscapes, and contemporary events” (8). I also appreciate his frankness. He begins his first chapter quoting Wallace Stegner, to whom the book is dedicated, and who Wilkinson tells us is the “wisest observer of this region” (1). The reader may agree or disagree, but he or she knows where Wilkinson stands—and why: “This book is an attempt to collect some of the writings, fiction as well as nonfiction, that best explain the central forces that have influenced the way of life of the American West. This work also presents a rough organization that, in my view,” Wilkinson writes, “demonstrates a cohesiveness for the whole region and for the many communities within it” (7). Wilkinson feels the “words and ideas” already exist which will allow Westerners to make “wise decisions” about their future, especially if they are read within a “regional” and “conceptual” framework. The 479 books referred to in this very original narrative bibliography are cross-referenced and alphabetized at the end for handy reference. This is a thoughtful work, profitable for the general and professional reader...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 73-74
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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