In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

2 2 0 WAL 3 5 .1 S U M M E R 2 0 0 0 one particular area’s natural history. Too, Bevis writes knowledgably about the geology ofgold, including charts and short lectures, though some readers might find these didactic interludes dispensable. A few printing mistakes annoy: three typos, a spelling confusion with a minor character (the modern-day alle­ gorical ascetic, Father Dismay, briefly appearing as “Desmet”), and a confusing dating error (“June 30, 1934” reads as “July 30, 1934”). But Bevis creates a wide and believable cast of minor characters of the “rough frontier” genus. His dialogue feels sure and never quite cliched, and at times his omniscient narrative voice achieves almost Faulknerian cadences. Above all, we remain fascinated with this protagonist’s obsession. Bevis uses as epigraph a quote from his favorite Wallace Stevens poem: “And not to have is the beginning of desire. / To have what is not is its ancient cycle” (175). Shorty Harris begins both in medias res and on an eternal note: “But Shorty needed more” (9). Isn’t it ever so? Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West. By Hal K. Rothman. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. 434 pages, $34-95. Reviewed by Robert Murray Davis University of Oklahoma, Norman In this carefully researched and somewhat repetitious study, Rothman puts a new twist on the mantra of Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” In his view, access is at least as important as the destination, and he would regard as inevitable a process in which control of the baseball field would be taken over by outsiders, some “neonatives,” some corporate suits; the rest of the farm would be overrun by condos and upscale chain stores; and the farmer and his family would be reduced to selling tickets and hotdogs and sweeping the stands for minimum wage without benefits—if they were not supplanted by illegal immigrants. At least that is what has happened in almost every case Rothman pre­ sents. He traces the rise of “industrial tourism”—Edward Abbey’s term, which Rothman defines as “the packaging and marketing of experience as commod­ ity within the boundaries of the accepted level of convenience to the public” (13)—in sites reached through modes of transportation ranging from the Grand Canyon through Santa Fe to archeological sites and dude ranches (reached by railroads), national parks (automobiles), ski resorts (autos and planes), and Las Vegas, which he sees as inaugurating, or at least fixing, the terms of what he calls postmodern tourism, in which the authentic may be dis­ tinguished from, but is not valued more highly than, the inauthentic. Of course, in most of the sites he discusses, “authentic” is a meaningless term, for those who developed the sites—cf. Santa Fe, “the city different”— fostered in their customers “a range of delusionary pretension” (321). The B o o k r e v i e w s 221 exception is Las Vegas, without pretension to spiritual or intellectual values or even “manufactured individualism,” which has prospered precisely because it is bogus—so genuinely bogus that other gambling resorts have to imitate it (344)- Rothman is far more severe on ecotourism, which, he says, is in fact indistinguishable from other forms of tourism despite the fact that “someone defined it for [greenish tourists] in a manner that affirmed their beliefs” even though their effect on physical and social environments was no different from that of the crassest skier in Aspen (340). Readers used to literary criticism, even the most tangled, will find Rothman’s book heavy going. For one thing, he repeats even minor points (e.g., Las Vegas casino workers make middle-class wages in blue-collar jobs) so often that the book could be 10 or 20 percent shorter, resulting in a great sav­ ing in paper and the reader’s patience; for another, the process of change from wild beauty to condoization is depressingly similar in all cases except that of Las Vegas so that the reader wants to page ahead to the climax. But Rothman’s point is that there isn’t any climax, and though he men­ tions a number...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 220-221
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.