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Reviews 115 Exceptions are rare. Jean Wakatsuki Houston’s “Rock Garden” is a story with dark tones, but it offers a kind of spiritual uplift at the end. Molly Gloss’s “Personal Silence”also offers a wonderful change of pace, and Lesley is to be complimented for adding a storywith a “sci-fi”bent to the group. But too many of the stories resemble Barry Lopez’s “The Interior of North Dakota,” a weighty account of geography and spirituality that promises far more hope than it delivers, or the heavier tones of Tess Gallagher’s “Girls.” Both are excellent, but one wants to cry “enough!” Lesley seems to have planned the collection as a text for creative writing classrooms, given its extraordinarily high multi-cultural profile. It’s almost as if he strained to include every ethnic group or minority, to the end that instead of a multi-faceted gathering of shortfiction, there is a sense of sameness in the volume. Surprisingly, Lesley also includes one of his own stories, “Mint.”It’s not a bad story; actually, it’s one of the best in the collection. But he should know better. The only serious flaw in the book, though, is that Lesley has omitted a fairly large portion of the American West. Oklahoma isn’t here; and except for Rick DeMarinis, a transplanted Easterner living in El Paso, Texas is also unrepresented. That’s a shame, for there are many good writers living in this huge segment of the traditional American West; they should be part of any representative sampling. Overall, though, Dreamers and Desperadoes is a fine assembly of some of the best names in the literary short story business; the stories here are all well done, readable, and, when taken singly or in small groups, enjoyable. CLAYREYNOLDS Denton, Texas New Growth/2: Contemporary Short Stories by Texas Writers. Edited by Mark Busby. (San Antonio: Corona, 1993. 269 pages, $12.95.) This excellent collection suggests that there really is a distinctive “Texas literature,”a fact disputed by Lyman Grant in his introduction to the first New Growth collection published by Corona in 1989. Editor Mark Busby cogently relates elements of the “Texas myth”—the state’s vastness, the consequent journeys within it (literal and metaphorical), its borderland tensions, its am­ bivalence—to the frontier mythology “central to the larger American experi­ ence.”Drawing on Larry Goodwyn, Busby notes other traits of the Southwest­ ern myth evident in Texas literature—primitivism, sexism, racism—and the need, as Larry McMurtry has argued, for exploring male-female relationships in Texas fiction. These stories do. And Texas violence shows up too. Busby’s keen introduction is complemented by informative comments by the twenty-four authors on their stories following brief biographical sketches, 116 'WesternAmerican Literature the writers including seven Texas women, three Mexican Americans, and one African American. There is stylistic diversity, ranging from realistic narration of physical terror to outlandish and thoughtful humor: from relatively new writer Sunny Nash’s powerfully brutal examination of incest, to seasoned author Jan Seale’s Flannery O’Connor-like depiction of a menacing voyeur neighbor; from Terry Pringle’s hilarious fantasy of two macho Texans denied their foolish dream, to Terence Dalrymple’s poignant, well-crafted story of a divorcee’s seeking—and finding through bathroom graffiti—a miraculous relationship, to Sallie Strange’s effective evocation of a couple in Electra, Texas, half successful in performing a home vasectomy, to Carolyn Osborn’s serious humor in her artful story of Hispanic/Anglo cultural differences. Copyediting errors (twenty-one in spelling, capitalization, punctuation— four on page 123 alone) mar an otherwise laudable anthology, yet three excellent stories—Rick Bass’s “Susan”with itsJohn Graves’s Goodbye to a River­ like sense of place, Robert Flynn’s superb “Living with the Hyenas,”and Clay Reynolds’s “Etta’s Pond”with protagonist Walker P. Sloan clearly in the tradi­ tion of Elmer Kelton’s admirably independent Charlie Flagg in The Time It NeverRained—all illustrate well the truth ofWilliam Owens’sobservation: “The only reason for regionalism is to make it an opening onto the universal.”They do. BOBJ. FRYE Texas Christian University The Crossing. The Border Trilogy, Volume...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 115-116
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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