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B o o k R e v ie w s 4 8 7 cuts through the average tale of greed to expose a motivation that is barely about money. All the stories play with stereotypes and expectations, from exploring the cost of treating Vegas as a new brand of western cure to images of the Christ child turning regular Coke into diet at a local bowling alley. In “The Fish Magician,” author David Kranes pulls the reader into the world of master magician and Vegas staple Lance Burton. Playfully suggestive, this story explores the tragic consequences of the onset of Alzheimer’s—various magic props, half a magician’s assistant, and now a tourist’s husband are all missing. While many of the stories deal with tourist experience, José Skinner’s “Naked City” delivers a realistic portrayal ofsuburban life (sans casinos) that feels more like my hometown than many of the other stories, and Andrew Kiraly’s “The Funniest Thing You Said All Night” depicts a different kind of Las Vegas loser who is often overlooked, suggesting that you can lose a lot more than money in Las Vegas. The stories are as diverse and entertaining as the city itself, giving a glimpse of what is available for observation on any given night in Vegas. A smorgasbord of style, theme, and subject matter, In the Shadow of the Strip seeks to give a three-dimensional view of this multifaceted and often schizophrenic city. This playful collection is a thoughtfully edited contribution to the western storytelling tradition as well as compelling primary evidence of the contradic­ tory, enigmatic nature of a fascinating and understudied city. Indian Country: Travels in the American Southwest, 1840-1935. By Martin Padget. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004. 250 pages, $37.95. Reviewed by Sara L. Spurgeon Texas Tech University, Lubbock Martin Padget has produced a fascinating, albeit limited, text, thoroughly researched and occasionally shallow. The six chapters focus on written and visual representations by Euroamericans traveling in the American Southwest. Padget’s argument is that the Southwest emerged as a distinctive region of the United States between the 1840s, when American traders, adventur­ ers, and policy makers became fixated on the issues that would lead to the U.S.-Mexican War, and the 1930s, when increasing ease of travel by rail and automobile had effectively eliminated the physical, if not representational, distances between the Southwest and other regions of the nation. The cultural shape of these imagined distances, the “tensions, ambiguities, and silences of Anglo discourses on the Southwest,” are mapped through Padget’s examination of writing, art, and photography produced between 1840 and 1935 (9). Some subjects have received considerable scholarly scrutiny—John Wesley Powell, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Charles Lummis, for example—while 4 8 8 W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n l it e r a t u r e W in t e r 2 0 0 6 others, such as artist Elbridge Ayer Burbank and photographers Adam Clark Vroman, Frederick Monsen, and Sumner Matteson may be less well known. The texts they produced include military reconnaissance reports, narratives of scientific exploration and ethnographic discovery, travelogues, journals, private letters, and novels, as well as paintings, drawings, and photographs. Padget is at his best in teasing out the often contradictory and self-revela­ tory impulses directing these works. Is the Southwest exotic, foreign, vaguely dangerous, or a charming comer of the United States, safely Americanized and easily accessible to the modem tourist? Are its non-Anglo inhabitants to be praised for their perceived ability to assimilate to Anglo culture or preserved in their imagined timeless difference from it? While the majority of Indian Country attempts to answer these questions by examining the cultural productions ofEuroamericans, a fair amount oftext is dedicated to the overt and covert resistance of Hispanic and Native American populations to both assimilationist and preservationist assaults. Padget charges some earlier critics with overestimating “the degree to which Euro-Americans could contain the ethnic and cultural differences” they encountered (9). Rather, he argues, “the process of American annexation and incorporation of the lands and peoples of the Southwest ... was necessarily a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 487-488
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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