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82 WesternAmerican Literature out a full look atwestern writing, the best or otherwise. Hillerman even notes in his introduction that sins of omission include the lack of pieces by Larry McMurtry, Ross Calvin, Norman Zollinger, and Joan Didion, among others; mostwestern literature fans will think ofmore who should be here but aren’t. In any such collection, space is a premium; but do we need yet another reprint of such old chestnuts as Travis’s letter from the Alamo, or two equally unreadable selections fromJ. Frank Dobie, or another reiteration of ‘The Outcasts of Poker Flat?” Most readers will probably skip these and wish that Hillerman had included some selections to represent the “urban west,” those modern cityscapes of glass and steel and concrete, of big and busted business, criminal gangs, racial tensions, traffic snarls and metro pollution that milestone the interstate from Texas to Utah to California. As with most collections of diverse material, The Best ofthe West tells us far less about its subjector the writers included than it does about the editor’staste, intellect, and erudition. In this case, what the volume has to say is complimen­ tary, if in some places a bit too familiar, a bit too obvious to be called the “best.” Even so, this volume offers a high quality collection ofwestern writing that may not be “the best”or even fully representative of that vast literary landscape, but rather captures many of the geographic, historical, and cultural phenomena in American literary history and presents it in a sampler that is as fascinating in its diversity and appeal as is the West itself. CLAYREYNOLDS Denton, Texas The Book of One Tree. By Annette R. Schober. (Flagstaff: Entrada Books, Northland Publishing Company, 1992. 57 pages, $9.95.) Under a Turquoise Sky: Stories ofThree Cultures. By RaymondJ. Stovich. (Flagstaff: Entrada Books, Northland Publishing Company, 1992. 104 pages, $9.95) The goal of Entrada Books is to present “new voices in southwestern literature” and these two soft-cover books are their authors’ first books of fiction. Beyond this definition of “new voice,”however, these works raise other questions about “newness”in southwestern literature. Stovich’s work is a collection of seventeen short stories set in New Mexico: five each with an Hispanic and a Native American main character, and three featuring an Anglo lead. The other four stories are “urban coyote” tales— modern adaptations of the traditional coyote character. These are well-written stories, and fifty years ago they would probably have garnered a glowing review. But, in 1992, the question of poetic voice—who may speak for whom—is of primary concern. In his “Acknowledgments”Stovich says that each story “began with an encounter” and that he did not “set out to write Hispanic or Native Reviews 83 American stories” but that “some” are set in those “contexts.” As noted, not some but the bulk of the stories are in such “contexts.”And most are presented not from the perspective of an encounter but in the first person. What makes this disturbing is that the tone is still one ofAnglo tourist imagining how “they” live. Following a long tradition, Stovich idealizes Hispanics and Native Ameri­ cans as possessing a more wholesome world view. Even those stories featuring Native Americans who have strayed from the path conclude with their rediscov­ ering their roots and regaining wholeness. In contrast, one Anglo commits suicide, one who worked on the atom bomb suffers nightmares and dies before atonement, and finally, a drunken, Anglo poet drinks beer in a kiva and hallucinates an ancient ritual: “It was as if the ghostly presence of the people of Chaco was helping [him] finally say goodbye to his wife.” Stovich presents us, then, with a ratherworn voice of the Southwest: the sympatico Anglo visitorwho views the natives as representatives of old, positive values in contrast to the corrupt Anglo world—but, finally, all Anglos really need do is get drunk and in touch with the sacred to be saved; they needn’t actually give up their corrupt civilization. In contrast, Schober’s work makes it clear that if you want the benefits of those folkways you have to live them, and that is hard...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 82-84
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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