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84 Western American Literature In the second story, “War Hoss Kelly and the Brahma Bull,”Old Rip and his football-star grandson, W. H., try to hold off the bank’s repossessing Old Rip’s ranch. Hauling a bull, a horse, and two dogs to sell in Beaumont, Old Rip hits a bus and the startled animals wind up in the shiny lobby of the Great Coastal Bank where they relieve themselves. The artful comic scenes recall those in Elmer Kelton’s The Good Old Boys or Winston Estes’s A Streetful ofPeople. In ‘Joe Willie’s Problem,” the title character’s presence causes machines to malfunc­ tion, providing funny criticism of technological “progress,”especially when Joe Willie takes on the polluting Tex-Eco-Safe Chemical Company. “The Karankawa Rodeo”is less successful, but “Waiting for ’57”is a well-crafted satire on football-fan boosterism and racial bigotry. “The Click” is an elementary school principal’sversion of “Take ThisJob and Shove It,”“Aboutjimmy Gene” poignantly focuses on a girl—her dad wanted a boy—for whom football leads to murder and suicide, and the closing “The Waxahachie Coke Bottle,”inferior to the rest, describes a teacher’s curious death. The best story is the opening “Maud and Mahatma.” Maud, a whore who “remained a closet school teacher,” runs a tavern in Janus Point. Mahatma, a violent Vietnam veteran imitating Gandhi, and a knife-wearing non-violent drifter from Amarillo converge in Maud’s tavern with orphaned black child Ahrah-si (RC). The characterization, the bizarre twist of plot, the allusions to myth, the vivid description—all reveal Neal Morgan to be a gifted raconteur even if a few spelling and punctuation errors detract. Remember those fascinating, surprising, poignant stories Grandpa told in the swing on the front porch at dusk about locals who were strange and foolish and admirable and human? I do. Neal Morgan is still telling. BOBJ. FRYE Texas Christian University The Lightning Within: An Anthology ofContemporary American Indian Fiction. Edited by Alan R. Velie. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991. 161 pages, $19.95.) Alan Velie’s purpose in editing this brief anthology is to provide “a selec­ tion of some of the best pieces of contemporary Indian fiction to serve as an introduction to the principal Indian novelists and short-story writers of the past twenty years.” To this end, he includes short stories by Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, and Simon Ortiz; and excerpts from novels by N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Louise Erdrich, and Michael Dorris. With the excep­ tion of Vizenor’s story, “Luminous Thighs,”all of the pieces are reprinted from novels or short story collections which are still in print. If there is an overriding unity among the selections, it might be the problems which Native Americans face in attempting to reconcile their present Reviews 85 realities with their past identities. Velie briefly introduces each author by noting his or her published works and giving an interpretive frame for the selection. For the most part, the selections represent well the uniqueness of each author’s style and key themes. In the case of Silko and Welch,Velie has chosen to include excerpts from their lesser-known works rather than the novels which center their fictional worlds. This attractive book might work as a supplemental college text if the price were not so high. But an additional problem in this regard is that it contains no guide to criticism. And, while there is no disputing the significance of these seven authors in Native American fiction, it is regrettable that Velie provides no references to other important contemporary Indian novelists such as Paula Gunn Allen, Anna Walters,Janet Campbell Hale, or Forrest Carter. RICHARD POTTER Roger Williams College A Summer Life. By Gary Soto. (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1990. 115 pages, $16.95.) Simply put, Gary Soto’s collection of short stories is about a familiar and universal theme: about growing up. But because Soto is writing about himself, it finds an immediacy that is fresh and compelling. As a Mexican-American born in the Central Valley’s Fresno in 1952, he remembers those sizzling summer months of freedom in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 84-85
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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