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74 Western American Literature Maclean, and a young smokejumper foreman, Laird Robinson, do incisive detective work over a long period of time to slowly unravel the mystery of what exactly happened. Yet most of this story #1 is better told in fifty pages in Earl Cooley’s Trimotor and Trail (1984). So what started out to be a memorial tribute to the brave young firefighters ends up being a strangely self-absorbed book that never lets us get to know the men concerned (other than the surviving two) or lets us really sympathize with the grand old man telling the story.© by STARRJENKINS, 1993 Emeritus, CalPoly State University, San Luis Obispo The Meadow. ByJames Galvin. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1992. 230 pages, $19.95.) The limitations of a short review make it impossible to explain why William Kittredge calls The Meadow “one of the best books ever written about the American West.”However, there are some things to say. First, the language, tone, and images remind us thatJames Galvin is, first of all, one of the best contemporary “western” poets, having produced three superb books of poetry: Imaginary Timber, God’s Mistress, and Elements. When not teaching atIowa, he hies to the mountains, works on his cabin, brings the horses down from the high pasture, fixes fences, and does other necessary work. He knows, as didJeffers, to stay awayfrom the “molten mass thickening to empire,” for “there are left the mountains.” And he knows the mountains and the mountain people. The Meadow is a mountain meadow, described in the first chapter, and is Galvin’s “real”world, inhabited by mosquitoes, bear, antelope, birds, beaver, elk, horses, some wonderful coyotes, and people. The people are “mountain people,”highly self-sufficient, hardy, stoic, enduring not only in life but in the pages of this book. At the center is Lyle, Galvin’s friend and mentor in this real world—carpenter, machinist, jeweler, logger, farmer, mechanic, inventor, whatever necessary. This book is not only a tribute to, but a biography of, Lyle. Other people help make up the book, along with bits of diaries, some of Galvin’sdreams, descriptions ofa gradually changing way of life, and pictures of mountains that have withstood, except for a few superficial scars, the ravages of time and people. And finally, the weather is always there. Early reviewers emphasized the brilliant organization of the many short sections. I agree, and form is important. Even more important is Galvin’s understanding and presentation of the ironies implicit in the human experi­ ence—an irony that enhances almost every section. Lyle, after building, by himselfand byhand, additions to the family cabin, says, “IfI’da knowed I’d end Reviews lb up like this, alone, I’da left things the way they was. God knows this old homestead cabin was plenty good enough for me.” And Galvin’sfather, in his four-wheel drive, meets a young horseman, who says, “Thought I’d ride over and invite Lyle to Christmas dinner with us. Didn’t think the snowmobile would make it through the drifts between your place and his. Nothing stops this nag.” “Do you think Lyle will come down for dinner?” “Oh, I know for a fact he won’t, but we ask him every year,just so he knows he can if he wants.” “And you’re riding fifteen miles through deep snow in a blizzard to invite Lyle to a dinner you are sure he won’t attend?” Clay looked down at his horse as if he’d never seen one before. “Looks like it.” Not irony and pity. Irony without pity; irony with understanding and affection. It’s a marvelous book. DELBERT E. WYLDER Corrales, New Mexico SoldiersFallingInto Camp: TheBattlesat theRosebud and theLittleBighorn. ByRobert Kammen, Joe Marshall and Frederick Lefthand. (Encampment, Wyoming: Affiliated Writers ofAmerica Publishers, 1992. 230 pages, $19.95.) The jacket of this book reads “Non-Fiction/American History,” and an authors’ note invokes “Lakota and Crow oral tradition.”This led me to expect an oral history informed by the heritage of Marshall, a Lakota, and of Lefthand, an Absaroka. Though some characters are based on accounts given to Marshall and Lefthand, the story...


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