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

Reviews 179 Zia Summer. By Rudolfo Anaya. (New York: Warner Brothers, 1995. 386 pages, $26.95/$21.95.) Rudolfo Anaya’s Zia Summer highlights New Mexico’s Hispanic culture as the backdrop for amurder investigationconductedby amacho ex-cop who alsohappens to be the cousin ofthe murdered woman. As Sonny explores the various clues about who killed Gloria, Anaya explores the richness of the West’s Hispanic cultural heritage, whichreallyproves tobe thebetter story. The mystery fails to weave together abelievable string ofevents, instead unravel­ ing into inconsistency andpredictability. For example, at one point we’re told Sonny’s girlfriend isthreatenedbyasatanic cultbecause he’s“gettingtooclose,”but later inthe samechapterSonnyadmits“hisleadshadallcomeupempty.”Andthere’snothingmore damaging to a mystery than predictability. But halfway through the novel everybody knows Anthony Pajaro is Raven, even if they don’t speak enough Spanish to know the translationofthe Spanishpajaro. Somemystery. Nevertheless, in spite of the book’s series ofplot inconsistencies, obvious conclu­ sions, and usual menagerie ofbad syntax and grammar, Anaya’scultural and historical surveyofAlbuquerqueisrewarding. The threads ofhisnarrativeweavethetimelesstale oftheAmericanWest,the struggletogrowintothefuturewhileretainingthepast.When AnayawritesthattheAnglos“werebuildingcitiesonsoftsand,”wedon’tdoubthowhe really feels about the future frontier. R. L. STRENG International Christian School SanJose, CostaRica TheApprenticeshipWritingsofFrankNorris 1896-1898. EditedbyJosephR. McElrath and Douglas K. Burgess. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1996. 301 + 276pages [twovolumes inone], $65.00/$50.00.) This volume (orvolumes: the twoparts areboundtogether) assembles for the first time all ofNorris’sverifiable writing from the period 1896-1898, almost all published inJohn O’HaraCosgrave’strendy SanFranciscolittlemagazine, TheWave. Norris was Cosgrave’sassistant; heperformedmenial editorial tasks aswell aswritinganonymous­ ly, under pseudonym, andusing his own initials or name. The editors have authenticat­ ed 159 pieces (though Norris may have written others); ofthese, sixty-four have never previouslybeen published inbook form. Thesewritingsarediverseandofmixedquality,butthereaderlikelywillbepleased withyoungNorris’sstandardduringaperiodofnearlyfrantic activity,whichincludeda psychologicalbreakdownofsome sort. TheWave, withaneducated, cosmopolitanaudi­ ence, allowed more freedom than mostjournals of its time, and Norris was allowed to experiment. Norris ranged the Bay Area, writing sports reportage (ever the unrecon­ structed Cal football fan), describing festivals, construction projects, coastal defenses, San Quentin. The future author of the “Epic of the wheat” already delighted in big things—steamengines, wasteincinerators, warships. Hereviewedartexhibitsandplays, interviewedactresses(assignmentsheclearlyrelished), anddiscussedthemannersofthe “NewWoman.” 180 Western American Literature As the editors note, there is arelatively small proportion offiction in Norris’sfirst year ofwriting for The Wave, evenconsidering as stories somepieces which are slight­ ly fictionalized sketches or opinion pieces. Norris’s stories, moreover, do not reveal a confidentyoungNaturalist, butawritermimickinganumberoffictional models. Oneof the most interesting ofthepieces in the first volume, “His Sister,” is a meta-text which presents a writer walking through the streets, imaginatively paralyzed by work of his predecessors and contemporaries: “I know you, I know you all. . . . There’s Chimmie Fadden, there’s Cortlandt Van Bibber, there’s Rags Raegen, there’s George’s Mother, there’sBedaliaHerodsfoot, andGervaise Coupeau andEleanorCuyler. . . .You’re done todeath; you won’t do, you won’t do.” Nonetheless, among the styles and models tried on and discarded, one finds, even in the first year of this apprenticeship, clearindications ofthe later Norris. The second of his “Man Proposes” series, as McElrath and Burgess observe, is Norris’s first com­ plete work in the Naturalistic mode. Elsewhere through the writings of 1896 and 1897 wefindpiecesdrawnfromtheevolvingmanuscripts ofMcTeague and Vandover and the Brute, whichhehadbrought back fromHarvard. Sometime in the spring of 1897 Norris apparently suffered a psychological crisis. Little is known of this episode other than through a brief mention in the memoir by Norris’s friend, Bruce Porter. (McElrath earlier summarized the evidence in his Frank Norris Revisited.) Whatever the cause, Norris emerged apparently strengthened. His works inlater ’97 and ’98 include more fiction; he was “becoming afull-fledged story­ teller.”The evidence ofvarying and contradictory models may still be apparent, but by parodying Crane, Bierce, Kipling, Hope, Harte, and Davis in his “Perverted Tales,” he was “declaringhis independence fromthem.” Thecollectionprovides acontext andbackgroundfordiscussionofNorris’smature works. But the collection is apleasure in itself, and its introductory essays and appara­ tus are elegant and authoritative. It is graced with a number ofphotographs, and repro­ ductions ofNorris’sownillustrations. This isanexpensiveedition, butessential forany­ one interestedinNorris. CHARLES L. CROW Bowling Green State University The Pumpkin Rollers. By Elmer Kelton. (New York: Forge Book/Tom Doherty Associates, 1996. 301 pages, $33.95/$22...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 179-180
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.