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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 important as each woman confronts the lack of a well-established black community in Phoenix and misses the sense of belonging she felt in her childhood. The cast includes Savannah, a sophisticated professional who is working to become a television producer; Bernadine, the mother of two small children, embroiled in a bitter divorce from the wealthy husband who left her for his young, white bookkeeper; Robin, flamboyant and spacey, who is successful in her professional life but leads a chaotic personal life; and Gloria, the owner of a beauty salon they all frequent and the single mother ofa teenage son. Each feels as if her life is incomplete without a man. In Savannah’swords, “Now I worry. I worry about ifand when I’ll ever find the rightman, ifI’ll ever be able to exhale.” McMillan offers a funny and insightful portrayal ofdating in the ’90s, where the men who seem too good to be true usually are. But though her characters make some bad choices, she supplies them with enough endearing personality, in­ cluding all-too-human shortcomings, that they never lose my sympathy. Although the women are looking for men, the heart of the story is their friendship with each other and their personal growth. McMillan pays careful attention to the details of their daily lives, showing us what is often behind the scenes in fiction: these women clean their houses, take care of their kids and their aging parents, go to meetings. At times such details slow the story down, but overall they contribute to a sense of the characters as realistic individuals. Reviews 91 Without denying harsh realties such as AIDS, drugs, and Alzheimer’s disease, McMillan manages to keep the tone optimistic. We rejoice in her characters’ small victories as each, while never giving up her search for the right man, learns to exhale on her own. DANA BRUNVAND WILLIAMS Utah State University Of Lizards and Angels: A Saga of Siouxland. By Frederick Manfred. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992. 617 pages, $22.95.) Is incest always wrong? TheNew CatholicEncyclopediaadmits God sanctioned it to start the human race, although he’s against it today. Is he? Suppose he lets a brother and sister fall in love. Are they sinners if they wed under false pretenses and have children, normal ones? Should we damn a novelist who admires such a marriage?—who points out that incest was mandatory for Egyptian royalty?—and that it made isolation endurable for pioneers? Can you imagine a reviewer defending Manfred? Well, you’re reading one. If you’re a professor, do you have enough guts to discuss this dangerous subject as tolerandy as Manfred? And are you enough ofa frank freethinker to talk about the marriage of the “sinners’”parents? Outwardly, it’s a Christian success; inwardly, it’s a Christian tragedy. The wife drives her husband to suicide by embracing the old-fashioned Christian doctrine that sex should...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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