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Reviews 89 Hutchison, reflecting light in a mirror, spreads a scene of the world we have now created and puts us into the reflection. The reflection is grief, lamentation for our earth, for ourselves, for persons close passing from us, for the passing of those unknown third persons, a spreading horizontal grief as wide as light, as wide as life. In the mirror if we look closely, we will find self to be the cause of grief, selfthe victim of self. But the light endures, has and still gives light to fish, birds and now us, who from a “Viewpoint on Independence Pass,”“... suddenly feel/kissed by shadows of birds/sailing high/in the gusty light.” In the second section, to the commonplace of private and public griefs, Hutchison addsjoy, which allows us to survive and continue the destruction.Joy comes to ease the grief; grief comes to keep us grounded. In the third section, thejoy is clandestine, a love affair with light, with life. But of course, the secret joy of one person is at the expense of another. The self lives, devouring light, even when the light is another life, . . nameless . . . /like dust.” SANDRA GAIL TEICHMANN Florida State University Franklin’s Crossing. By Clay Reynolds. (New York: Dutton, 1992. 536 pages, $22.00.) Franklin’s Crossing satisfies everything a reader expects of a Western. Reynolds’book, however, is set apart from others of its genre by its brutal truth about the realities of the experience ofpeople on awagon train out ofJefferson, Texas, making the long trek to Santa Fe. The story is set in the 1870s when the Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes combined in an uprising that left trails of horror across the Texas plains. Indian atrocities have not been so graphically described since J. W. Wilbarger’s 1889 account, Indian Depredations in Texas. Even readers saturated with the violence of media will be repulsed, revolted. Brutality, whether visited upon blacks, browns, reds, or whites, provides special effects for the scenario. Wagon-master Cleveland Graham has hired a black scout, Moses Franklin, to lead the train to Santa Fe where he has a buyer for his load of whiskey. Both men love Aggie, a golden girl in both appearance and soul. Moses must deny the emotions aroused by the white girl’s kindness. Cleve’s yearning for her grows in proportion to his hatred for the black man. Moses leads the train, after some unfortunate delays, to a crossing where Indians besiege the weary travelers. The plot seems thin; not so the characterization. Flashbacks provide back­ ground out of which the major characters evolve. Parallelism between Moses and Cleve is the technique by which these two are known. Contrasting Aggie with the other women is Reynolds’way of creating a figure bound to be one of the outstanding women of western fiction. Franklin’s Crossing is a book of racial conflict, a non-romantic story of the 90 WesternAmerican Literature American dream, a development of three dynamic characters who make their choices and find self-definition in the agony that follows. On another level, it is a parable from Hebrew Scriptures. Moses’dream is to lead his people out of the economic bondage of Reconstruction Texas, but he is denied seeing his dream fulfilled. Cleve, his counterpart, cannot reach his promised land, the Valley of High Snows, for he sacrificed all to evil: the whiskey, tool of the devil figure,Jack Sterling. As the parable unfolds, the people on the train suffer for their hypocrisy, hatred, and cruelty. It is scriptural retribution, a recurring theme in Reynolds’work. This powerful novel promises to move Reynolds from the ranks of regional and Western writers to that of top novelists who look beyond time and place to examine humanity at its worst—and its best. ERNESTINE SEWELL LINCK Commerce, Texas Waiting to Exhale. By Terry McMillan. (New York: Viking, 1992. 409 pages, $22.00.) Terry McMillan’s Waiting toExhale concerns people we don’t often see in western literature—urban black women. The story, set in Phoenix, centers on four friends in their mid-thirties. Though the novel focuses on relationships between people rather than to place, the setting becomes...


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pp. 89-90
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