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120 Western American Literature Billy’s father, Pawnee Killer, accepts his son as they both participate in a battle against the government, but the latter part of the narrative focuses more directly on the historical aspects of the Ghost Dance than on Billy’s own individual plight. As is true of the finest examples of the western novel, these works’greatest achievement rests in the verisimilitude of their settings, the richness of their depiction of western characters, and their treatment of several of the West’s archetypal themes, most notably the quest for justice. Hackenberry and Worcester’s portrayals of the rugged landscape of the Dakota Territory and Brooks’ of the vastness of Texas are poignant and vivid, while Hackenberry’s Goodwin and Brooks’Henry Dollar are heroic yet human embodiments of law in a lawless land. None of these works is flawless. Yet, on balance, each tells an interesting story, revealing once again the powerful hold that the frontier West continues to exert on the American imagination. CHRISTOPHER S. BUSCH Hillsdale College BluefeatherFellini. By Max Evans. (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1993. 340 pages, $19.95.) The novel beginswith half-Taos Indian and half-Italian Bluefeather Fellini meeting Sam Grinder, a churlish and toothless old prospector who can chew tobacco and drink beer at the same time. Together they search for a rich vein of gold in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. In the course of the picaresque novel, which ranges through the 1930s and 40s, Bluefeather Fellini prospects for gold; briefly features as afavorite of salon culture in Taos; wanders through Texas, Arizona, and Nevada prospecting, drinking, dancing, and sexing; turns gentleman gambler and settles for a time in Tonopah with awoman who owns a burlesque company; kills a man in self defense during a high stakes poker game; leaves for Breen, Colorado, where he meets and marries Mary Schmidt O’Kelly, “the most beautiful, intelligent, kindliest and best baker of pies in the entire world”;successfullyworks the King Tut gold mine with Mary, only to kill her accidentally with a dislodged rock; and then departs Colorado after blast­ ing the mine entrance closed. And that is only Part One. BluefeatherFellini is clearly the product of Evans’s life-long association with the Southwest as a cowboy, rancher, mining speculator, trader, artist, and writer. Those familiar with the author’s previous works, which include The Rounders, TheHi Lo Country, and My Pardner, know Evans’s considerable enthu­ siasm for the region’s physical and cultural terrain. Yet the scope of the novel expands beyond the Southwest to take in the grim reality ofWorld War II. Part Two dramatizes the role of the Ninth Regiment in the allied assault on Reviews 121 occupied France in 1944. Evans does not let up in describing the grisly destruction ofwar. Part Three finds the protagonist back in New Mexico. There he meets a doctor and his aunt, “a weirdly gorgeous young woman”who supposedly is ninety-six years old. The three attempt to mass produce a wondrous health cure made from sage oil. The ending of the novel suggests further adventures for Blue. This is a memorable and rambunctious novel that is full of eccentricities. What it lacks in depth of characterization is compensated for in the sheer range of the story. MARTIN PADGET University ofCalifornia, San Diego Parable ofthe Sower. By Octavia E. Butler. (New York and London: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993. 299 pages, $19.95.) Los Angeles is most hated of our cities because it makes our fears most visible. Here is its nightmare future: civil order collapses, and with it much of our technology. Mobs and drug-crazed criminals rule by night, and fires burn uncontrolled. Water, fuel, and food are nearly unobtainable; some homeless resort to cannibalism. Citizens with even modest property try to protect them­ selves within fortified communities, which become targets for siege. Groups of survivors try to escape, but only spread the chaos. This is a horrifying vision, but not difficult to believe in: perhaps easier than any other. Octavia E. Butler enters a now recognizable tradition of Los Angeles dystopian fiction with thisvery intelligent and finely crafted novel. Butler, who grew up in...


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pp. 120-121
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