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Reviews 111 Hispanicspossessthedignityandwalkthemoralhighgroundofapeoplewhohavebeen rooted inthe land for generations; herNativeAmericans are burdenedbythe contradic­ tions forceduponthemby asocietythat wantstomakethemoverinits ownimage. Out ofthese three cultural strands, Kate Horsley has created anextraordinary set ofcharac­ ters interactinginanarrativewelldeservingofthe awardit hasearnedfromtheWestern StatesArts Federation. IVANMELADA UniversityofNewMexico Walking the Twilight II: Women Writers of the Southwest. Edited by Kathryn Wilder. (Flagstaff, Arizona; NorthlandPublishing, 1996. 245 pages, $14.95.) Although Walking the TwilightII was conceived as a collection of short fiction by women in the Southwest, fewer than half of the twenty-five pieces create a satisfying, fictional cosmos in which characters are revealed and developed through their actions. Instead, editor Kathryn Wilder has compiled numerous personal essays, prose poems, andanecdotes—allperfectlylegitimate forms,but ifWilderconsciouslydecidedagainst acollectionof short fiction, herediting shouldreflect andexplain the present collection ofdisparateforms. Unfortunately, Wilder’sheadnotes atthebeginningofeach selection areprimarilybiographical, offeringless insight tothereaderthan ifshehad simply stat­ ed whethereachpiece shouldbe read as fictionornonfiction. While the forms represented here are diverse, the voices seem strangely homoge­ neous. Never have I read so many thin rationalizations for women pursuing the wrong men, wistfuldescriptionsofthewaylightplays ondesertlandscapes, sadlittleritualsfor freeingoneselfofex-lovers, andstemsermonsaboutthevalueoftheenvironment. Some oftheobviouslynonfictionalpiecesleandangerouslytowardatoneofNew-Agedreami­ ness. InMerionMorriganSharp’sFull Circle, forexample, awomanexclaims, (without ashredofirony), ‘“OhGoddess, I hurt somuch!’” The few examples of fiction that do appear are quite remarkable, however. Ellen Winter’s “The PriceYouPay,” about a woman who escapes a bad marriage, is the kind of story that slides along so easily you hardly notice theneat structure, uncanny phras­ ing, andvividimagery, until youturnthelast page over, wishingthere were more. Each sentence reveals as it conceals: MyhusbandisaChristianman,Isay.Hedoesn’tbelieveinbirthcontrol. He choppedmydiaphragmintwoonourhoneymoon. I still rememberthewaythepiecesfell intothe snow. Anotherjewel is Phyllis Barber’s “Spirit Babies,” the story of a Mormon woman who dreams of children who need her to bring them into the world. By the end of the story Delta Ray has begun a complex struggle against her most cherished beliefs, and Barbertellsher storyconvincinglywithout betraying anyharshjudgments: DeltaRayfollowedmeekly,alambfollowingdarkblueshirts,alambonlyknow­ ingonedirection,onlyfollowingoneleader—thedarkblueshirtsintotheredand 178 Western American Literature white ambulance, into the wide-open back doors, gauges, timeless clocks, upside down bottles of clear fluid. Other fine fiction includes “Two Deserts,” by Valerie Matsumoto, and “News from the Volcano,” by Gladys Swan. In addition to good story-telling, Matsumoto’s harsh descriptions of desert life and Swan’s magical realism offer a refreshing departure from some of the more preachy pieces. Walking the Twilight II is an intriguing collection of women’s voices. However, Wilder assumes that it is enough to establish that each and every piece was written by a woman living somewhere in the Southwest. Surely there is more complexity here for an editor to unearth. LORRAINE ENGSTROM Santa Rosa, California The Imaginative Claims of the Artist in Willa Cather’s Fiction: “Possession Granted by a Different Lease”. By Demaree C. Peck. (Cranbury, New Jersey: Susquehanna University Press, 1996. 342 pages, $48.50.) In The Imaginative Claims of the Artist in Willa Cather’s Fiction, Demaree C. Peck argues that Cather’s work is part of an American tradition of romanticism, a tradition inspired particularly by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In Emerson, Peck writes, Cather found “the best model for her peculiarly American ideal of imaginative possession.”According to Peck, Cather’s characters struggle to “absorb” the world in which they live in order to “recreate an imperial self,” and when Cather writes about her characters, she is, in fact, writing about herself and her own psychic needs. Beginning with Alexander’s Bridge and ending with Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Peck groups eight of Cather’s novels into three distinct phases through which she traces Cather’s evolving notions of Emersonian possession. Peck describes the first phase as “celebratory,” and it includes characters, Alexandra Bergson for example, who recall Emerson’s poet landlord, thus reflecting Cather’s struggle “to assert her own authorial claim upon Nebraska.” The second, a “darker middle phase,” depicts characters such as Niel Herbert and Godfrey St. Peter, who confront, as Cather did, a world of crass mate­ rialism. The third is an “affirmative” phase that brings Cather back to a fundamental struggle between “a material possession and an imaginative appropriation of nature” as she recovered her imaginative territory in works like Death Comesfor the Archbishop. In her concluding chapter Peck extends her argument from...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 177-178
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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