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118 Western American Literature ... I didn’t stay what I was.” She acts as a bridge between the past and the future. Her voice as the voice of the future succeeds in drowning out voices of the past, but it does not proclaim hope. As a modern man, McMurtry’suncertainties can be seen in the dude from Boston. Sent to hire Call to stop the railway crimes, “Brookshire doubted that he could find the will to keep himself going across the empty country, toward the dim horizon. . . . He would just stop and sit down and wait to be dead.” Eventually he doesjust that. No wonder. The violence in the novel is extraordinary: children are burned alive at the stake, an old woman is trampled by a gang on horseback, a distraught young bride, well into her pregnancy, is raped by a sheriff and eats ratpoison to die an agonizing death. Ifthis is how McMurtrysees the Old West, it’s difficult to imagine that he’s longing for its return. And yet that’s the message we get. The three sections of the novel contain events that may or may not relate. There’s no reason why the novel should not have its thirty-one chapters integrated entirely into the body of the novel. Even the integrity of other narrative is questionable; at the end of the second section of the novel, we are told that “Call picked out a strong mare for Lorena”just before they leave on their trek. But somewhere after leaving Fort Stockton, at the beginning of the novel’s third section, Lorena’s “strong mare,”becomes a “him.” The magic McMurtry wrought in LonesomeDove has escaped him in Streets ofLaredo, a sequel byvirtue of its chronology and its characters only. Really, it’s just the same old McMurtry, still haunted by the past and afraid of the future. R. L. STRENG International Christian School, Costa Rica Friends. By Charles Hackenberry. (New York: M. Evans and Company, 1993. 238 pages, $16.95.) Buscadero. By Bill Brooks. (New York: M. Evans and Company, 1993. 198 pages, $16.95.) Man on Two Ponies. By Don Worcester. (New York: M. Evans and Company, 1992. 204 pages, $16.95.) Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. Wister’s The Virginian. Schaefer’s Shane. Clark’s The Ox-BowIncident. The narratives of L’Amour. To avid readers of the western novel, these works number among the giants of the genre, books which have set the standard for literary treatment of the frontier experience. Though not of the caliber of these greats, three recent titles in the Evans Novels of the West series nevertheless testify to the endurance of the genre and Reviews 119 incorporate in their pages some of its richness of setting, character and theme. The best of the three, Hackenberry’s Friends, takes place in the Dakota Territory in the 1870s. Narrator Willie Goodwin, a deputy and expert tracker, joins sheriff Clete Shannon in pursuit of a vicious killer, Jezrael Dushane. At the same time. Goodwin falls in lovewith a mysterious, dark-skinnedwoman of mixed heritage, Amanda Boudoin. Seeking revenge against Shannon for kill­ ing a relative, Dushane bums a ranch house in which he believes Shannon is sleeping, then fires on the lawman with an especially devastating type of exploding bullet. After an exhausting chase through rugged wilderness and wasteland, Goodwin and Shannon capture Dushane, and, to Goodwin’s (and the reader’s) surprise, Shannon hangs him on the spot. Hackenberry’s back­ ground as an academic (he’s an English professor at Penn State) emerges in several instances: his fossil hunter, Professor Marsh, complains of his dean’s reluctance to fund his expeditions; Goodwin heeds advice which his father apparentlyborrowed from Milton (“They also servewho onlyjust stand around waiting”); and both the characterization of Marsh and the novel’s ending bear some resemblance, respectively, to Cooper’s naturalist Dr. Battius and to Ishmael Bush’s rough-and-readyjustice in The Prairie. While Hackenberry’snovel focuses on friendship, Brooks’sBuscaderoturns out to be a love story set in Texas. The complexities of the plot are further complicated by Brooks’ narrative structure, which, like a soap opera’s, flips from one scene and...


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pp. 118-120
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