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B o o k R e v ie w s 4 1 9 to explain why many other anthologies skirt the geographical issue entirely, considering the term Western as naming a genre instead of a place. . And while still others have preceded Horton in culling the best of the Southwest, this anthology is unique in that it highlights new writing. Each of the nineteen stories was published in a North American literary journal in 2006; in this way, it resembles the venerable New Stories from the South series. But Horton’s is the first such effort to give the Southwest the same treatment. And the best stories in this book justify that effort. Matt Clark’s “The Secret Heart of Christ,” the gem of the bunch, is a genre-busting work that stuffs its sixty pages with everything from rattlesnakes to serial killers and yet somehow brings it all to bear on a complex and conflicted character in crisis, as all great stories must. Toni Jensen’s mesmerizing “At the Powwow Hotel” shows a Blackfoot family in West Texas coping with loss in the midst of a modern-day Native migration while John Tait’s rollicking “Reasons for Concern Regarding My Girlfriend of Five Days, Monica Garza” shrinks the Southwest’s constant clashing of cultures to a very human scale. As is the case with most short story anthologies, some selections seem questionable. Elmo Lum’s “What I Never Said” is a southwestern story in only the most superficial sense—a story of a tourist family, it could easily have taken place in Florida instead—and its self-consciously childish voice more accurately reflects the literary sensibilities of contemporary Brooklyn or San Francisco. Alicita Rodriguez’s “Imagining Bisbee” describes the residents of the Arizona town so summarily that it borders on condescension, her contributor’s note about fictional truth notwithstanding. This volume could have benefited from being two or three stories shorter. But ultimately, this anthology’s merits outweigh its flaws. New Stories from the Southwest accomplishes a rare and considerable feat, identifying a void in our literature by filling it. It would be a shame to see that void reappear, although Ohio University Press has expressed no plans to publish it as a series, and Horton has moved on to co-edit the revival of Best of the West. One would hope another editor and press take up the mantle, because this book establishes that the Southwest deserves its own regional short story anthology series. Wild Tongue. By Rebecca Seiferle. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2007. 203 pages, $17.00. Reviewed by Pamela St. Clair Three Rivers Community College, Norwich, Connecticut Rebecca Seiferle’s Wild Tongue is divided among five sections titled after refer­ ences in the New Testament Book ofJames to controlling the tongue, “the most unruly member of the body,” and opens with a quotation from 1 Timothy: “‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection’” (xi). In response, these poems rage. Moreover, like the feral cat in “The Wound of Being” with “its eye tooth 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 9 anchored in my index finger, so present / and piercing, that I felt my self in the bloodred drops,” they bite back (63). These poems of protest and survival recall Gloria Anzaldua’s groundbreak­ ing Borderlands, a feminist collection of essays and poems about growing up in South Texas and struggling to embrace a Chicana, lesbian identity within a hybrid culture intent on denying it. In form and content, Wild Tongue likewise rebels. Titles sometimes eschew formal capitalization or refuse demarcation by serving as a poem’s first line. Fluid identities, spiritual and human, take form in shape-shifting stanzas. Expanding and compressing, an accordion of lines her­ alds angels as “God’s fireflies” in “Taxonomy of Angels,” who “fall to earth only in the bottlegreen moments / between one mating and another” (64, 65). That tug between the ineverent and the sacred is what often creates the truth-seeking moment of tension. In “The Profane, the Miraculous Hand...


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pp. 419-420
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