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384 WesternAmerican Literature The rock climbing in the story serves as a metaphor for the author’sgrowth and development. As climbs get bigger and more dangerous, and therefore require more commitment, the protagonist seems to mature not only as a climber but as a human being. According to the British mountaineer Doug Scott’s essay “On the Profundity Trail,” to attempt difficult climbs in remote places allows the climber to step away from the world of the commonplace, to grow through experience, adventure, and hard work and then to be able to return to society renewed. Duane states: “During the long and painful rappel, disappointment mingled with elation at being both alive and freed from my stupid ambition. I touched ground and dropped everything: terra plata. A nervous young Brazilian man—beautiful with long hair—smiled and said, ‘Goodjob.’Heroes home from the front. Conquerorsjust for considering it.” The reader comes away from Lighting Out with this same positiveness, something refreshing and very important in contemporary literature. MIKELVAUSE WeberState University WayDown YonderIn TheIndian Nation. ByMichael Wallis. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. 251 pages, $18.95.) The 66 Diner; Ethel’s97 Bar-B-Q; Woody Guthrie’s songs. These are just a few of the sights and sounds that fill Michael Wallis’s Way Down Yonder In The Indian Nation, a collection of sixteen essays which attempt to imbue Oklahoma with both a reclaimed sense ofhistory and a discernible sense ofplace. Hoping to counter perceptions of Oklahoma—the Indian Nation—as a poor prairie rela­ tion to its neighboring states, and to elevate its status from mediocre and “OK” to something more prized, Wallis offers the reader a highly textured social history in the guise of a languid road trip. Wallis opens with a recounting of the initial and subsequent settling of the Oklahoma territory. With reportorial economy, he moves from early tribal occupation through European exploration to U. S. acquisition and Indian displacement. He next reports the various contrasts which mark the region: “cowboys and Native Americans . . . dogtrot cabins and Art Deco palaces, rodeo and ballet” and such. But in the end, Wallis focuses on the ways in which the personal informs and shapes the unique contours of Oklahoma. Indian Nationdraws its strength from Wallis’stenure as ajournalist, from his attention to specific details of seemingly ordinary occurrences. Relying on information gathered through oral histories and interviews, Wallis writes of “Slat” Crimson, his wife Wynnie, and his Lucky Strike-smoking pal Bill Hollis, and their lives in “No Man’sLand”—Texhoma. In “Thunderbirds: The Fighting 45th”we visit Oklahoma City’s “monument to uncommon warriors from ordi­ nary places”and get a short lesson on Indian mythology as well. However, what Indian Nation gains from looking at the ordinary it loses when looking at the legendary. Wallis’svignettes of Pretty Boy Floyd and Frank Phillips suffer from a desire to be both personal and objective. Wallis writes in the opening of “Pretty Boy” that Charley Floyd loved stories of outlaws and desperadoes. But the story-within-the-story of the whiskey trail in the hills does nothing to illuminate our understandings of Oklahoma as a particular place or of Floyd’s particular history. Still, if Indian Nation sometimes falls into unapologetic romanticizing and distracting prose it makes clear the uniqueness of Oklahoma in history and memory. COLLEEN M. TREMONTE Michigan State University Reviews 385 Careless Weeds: Six Texas Novellas. Edited by Tom Pilkington. (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1993. 330 pages, $35.00/$14.95.) The six examples gathered here prove the novella as aform isyetvital. They vary widely in style and content, but they share understandings of that part of the American West called Texas. Jan Rushing’s quietly controlled style allows her “Wayfaring Strangers” to reveal sometimes dark undercurrents of small town life. The focus in this piece is on feminine sensibilities, but the revelations are not merely gender-oriented. Margot Frazer’s “Hardships” is as much social history as it is competent fiction. Her emphasis on the bond between people and land is sure to make what she says meaningful to Westerners. David L. Fleming treats the inescapable fact ofracial prejudice and asserts the primacy...


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pp. 384-385
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