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92 Western American Literature Survival. By Nancy Lord. (Minneapolis'. Coffee House Press, 1991. 161 pages, $9.95.) Living close to nature in Alaska requires keen skills for survival, as parts of the country are still as unspoiled and primitive as they were when all of the lower forty-eight were in varying degrees of exploration—an overriding reason many people are drawn to its shores. In the initial story, “Survival,” from which the collection takes its name, the narrator explains, “You don’t live in a small Alaskan town for thejob you can get; you do whateverjob you can in order to be able to live in such a place.” Nancy Lord presents these contemporary pioneers in a way which makes them seem like former neighbors or college friends. She serves slices ofAlaskan life which are intriguing, poignant, and earthy. As it does in much of western literature, the land itself plays the most powerful role in her fifteen dramas. Each one, like a gem in the northern lights tiara, represents a quest for quality and meaning in life. Most are about women’s relationships with: the environ­ ment (“Waiting for the Thaw”a picture of cabin fever), each other (“Imitations” where the companionship of a unique dog is preferable to that of a boorish beau), and men (“Snowblind” the tale of a government employee’s overly romanticized affair with an unkempt Peter Pan who also happens to be mar­ ried). Four stories are told primarily from a male point of view. Of these “Bucketful of Mice”was my favorite and a powerful reminder that food fulfills only one of our basic needs. Her characterization and gripping imagery, remi­ niscent of Flannery O’Connor, are outstanding. Let us hope Ms. Lord will continue to take time from her commercial fishing job to share more of the experiences of those new and original Alaskans which she catches in her perceptive net—because as Nadine in “Snowblind” says, “Some of us need Alaska, even if it’s only in our minds. You know, even ifwe’re not there, we need Alaska to be there.” MICHAELINE K. V. CHANCE-REAY Columbus State Community College The Bounty of Texas. Edited by Francis Edward Abernethy. (Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 1990. 232 pages, $19.95.) “A folklorist can live off the bounty of Texas easy enough—and get fat,” editor F. E. Abernethy says, figuratively explaining this title and literally describ­ ing some members of the Texas Folklore Society. From Mr. and Mrs. J. Frank Dobie (deceased) to Elmer Kelton and Robert Flynn (now in their prime), there are 18 never-before-published essays on folklore and, in one case, fakelore (“Folk Speech in Texas Prisons”). An extraordinary essay is somewhere in Reviews 93 between:Jeri Tanners’ironic account of Ollie North, a prince kissed by Fortune and turned into a frog, a reversal of a motif. Kelton’s admission that his four best historical novels contain much stolen from Texas folklorists is more interesting than yet another defense of Dobie against the petulant, pre-Lonesome Dove author, Larry McMurtry. “The Pleasure Frank Dobie Took in Grass”is notwhatyou think. The title is as down to earth as “The Folksong Scholarship of Dorothy Scarborough.”The funniest writers in Texas are here: Paul Patterson, Robert Flynn, and Joyce Roach. Other writers, from the field and the library, illustrate Chaucer’s “infi­ nite variety,”including Kenneth Davis, RobertJ. Duncan, R. A. Hill, Paul Stone, Sylvia Grider, Connie Ricci, Tom McClellan, Janet Jeffery, Faye Leeper, Lera Lich, W. M. Von-Maszewski, and Charles Shafer. In short, this is another amazing collection of the fruitful interests of the Texas Folklore Society following along the lines of former collections such as T For Texas: A StateFull ofFolklore (PTFS #44, 1982), Paisanos: A Folklore Miscellany (PTFS #41, 1978), What’s Going On1 ?(In Modem TexasFolklore) (PTFS #40, 1976), but then we are skipping a bounty of others. This year’s is Number 49. JAMES W. BYRD East Texas State University CHARLES E. LINCK East Texas State University Aspen: Blazon ofthe High Country. Text by Ann Zwinger, photographs by Barbara Sparks. (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991. 86 pages...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 92-93
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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