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86 Western American Literature and leaves us feeling as good as the five-year-old protagonist: “For me, life was mostly summer days tramping in cut-offs and a peach-stained T-shirt. I loved my life....”Soto’s SummerLife makes wonderful reading for all ages—notjust in the summer. BRIGITTE LaPRESTO Pikeville College The End of the Dream & Other Stories. ByJohn G. Neihardt. Compiled by Hilda Neihardt Petri. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991. 115 pages, $19.95.) Although John Neihardt is best remembered as the biographer of the Dakota holy man Black Elk and the author of the five-part verse epic Cycle ofthe West, these stories are some of his earliest published work, stemming from his experiences as a trader’s clerk on the Omaha reservation near Bancroft, Ne­ braska. All nine stories originally appeared in the San Francisco-based Overland Monthly between 1901 and 1905, and differed from most other “Indian”stories printed there in that Neihardt’s characters were neither bloodthirsty nor noble savages, but, as Neihardt wrote in a letter to a friend, human beings “in the grip of fate.”In the second volume of his autobiography Patterns and Coincidences, he writes that after reading the stories, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American woman to earn an M.D. degree, and the daughter of Iron Eye, the last chief of the Omahas, told him that his “were the only Indians in literature from Cooper to Remington that had not been offensive to her, adding that she could not understand how a white man could represent the Indian idiom so perfectly in the English language.” Even this early in his career, Neihardt’s heroes and heroines have an epic, tragic quality to them, often standing apart from their society, and many of the stories end with profound irony. In “The Beating of the War Drums,” Little Wolf, a young man too small to become a real warrior, who “in accordance with certain infallible psychic laws, became what he was considered,” sets out to rescue the tribe’s women, captured by enemies while the Omaha men were away. His rescue attempt in his wolfskin has dire consequences for the women, his beloved, and himself. Nu Zhinga (Little Man), the protagonist of the title story, does not have his vision, even after repeated attempts, and embarrasses himself and his widowed mother by crying over his killed pony on a war party. Yet when the tribe starts to die from a deadly sickness, it is Nu Zhinga who searches for and finds the tuft of white buffalo hair needed for the cure, but too late. “A Prairie Borgia,”the only tale in this collection that takes place after the arrival of the white man, is also the longest, and is based on a historical person, the notorious and despotic Blackbird, whose story was first told by Catlin in 1857. Anyone interested in Neihardt cannot afford to miss reading this compila­ Reviews 87 tion, which makes a fine companion piece to his other collection of short works, Indian Tales & Others. TIMOTHY A. THOMAS Fort Collins, Colorado Horsing Around: Contemporary Cowboy Humor. Edited by Lawrence Clayton and Kenneth W. Davis. (Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1991. 244 pages, $34.95/$16.95.) Lawrence Clayton and Kenneth Davis have long been associated with the folklore of Texas and particularly with cowboy culture. In this newest addition to the Wayne State University Press Humor in Life and Letters Series, they combine their talents to open another dimension of western letters that hasn’t been previously explored, at least not in this way. Collected in this volume are several dozen stories and anecdotes by ten writers who have direct connections to the contemporary cowboy of Texas. From these writers, they have gleaned the funny, the outrageous, and sometimes the poignantly revealing truths about an often ignored subculture of the Southwest. This volume appeals most in its diversity. From the cruder tales of Curt Brummett to the imaginative stories ofJohn (“Hank the Cowdog”) Erickson to the more delicate pen of Carolyn Osborn, the book offers a complete tour of cowboying as seen from the inside and outside. Elmer Kelton, Benjamin Capps...


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