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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/$22.95.) The Pumpkin Rollers continues Kelton’sTexasstorytellingtraditionwiththetaleof TreyMcLean,third-bomsonforwhomnoroom’sleftonthefamilyfarm.Withonlysev­ enteendollarsandfour“long-agedcows”tohisname, Treybecomespreytothewicked, wickedwiles oftheWestonlytopull himselfupbythestraps ofhisboots, “homemade, bull-stoutandhog-ugly”astheyare,tobecomepartnerinaranchingoperationandmar­ riedto the sharp-shootin’est girl in all o’Texas. Kelton again offers readers a warmportrait of maturing youth in rough and tough Texas, itselfstill growingup.TreyandSarah, whobelievethattheirhonestyandintegri­ tyandPuritanworkethicwill seethemthroughanyadversity,mirrorthehopeofthe set­ tlers. Nevertheless, the youthful idealism in Kelton’s tale is not forced. Trey and Sarah Reviews 181 knowthat “conquesthadbeenthewayoftheworld,notsimplyoftheWest”andthatthe weaker has always lost “to some interloper who came with greater strength, a more unyieldinghunger,”sotheydiginanddetermine tobethe strongest inorderto seetheir dreams become reality. The Pumpkin Rollers isnot simplyanother storybemoaningthe loss ofthepastbut one that understands that the same pioneer spirit that drove the settlers still drives man today, that it is not the open trail or the wide, starry sky that sets on fire a man’s spirit but the possibility of dreaming a dream and making it a reality. Kelton has written yet another true Western about Texas, about history, and aboutpeople he knows from long studyandpersonal acquaintance. The manwhowontheWesternHeritageAwardforthe best novel in 1987has done it again. R. L. STRENG International Christian School San Jose, Costa Rica Indian Killer. ByShermanAlexie. (NewYork:AtlanticMonthlyPress, 1996. 432pages, $22.00.) DidShermanAlexie writethisnovel?Readers familiarwithhisprevious workmay well wonder. Where are theoutbursts ofwildly imaginative writing, the humor, andthe wholly original way ofdealing withthe ironies ofcontemporaryreservation life? Set in Seattle, Indian Killer recalls Almanac of the Dead, the novel in which Leslie Marmon SilkomovedawayfromLagunaPueblotowriteabouttheconditionsthatengenderclass conflictinthecityofTucson. Butwhereas Silkoviewedthecityas agatheringplacefor sordid and corrupt opportunists who degrade the land and the human spirit, Alexie is concernedless with deploringvice andeconomic injusticethanwithexploring the poli­ tics ofpersonal identity within anurban setting. TherearethoselikethetribelessJohnSmith, adoptedatbirthbywhiteparents, who driftnumblythroughlifewithoutknowingwhotheyare.EquallyconfusedaretheIndian “wannabe’s,” like Dr. Mather, a white professor who claims to understand the realities of Indian life, yet teaches his course in NativeAmerican literature without including a singlebookbyanativewriteronhis syllabus. Mather’snemesis, MariePolatkin, acam­ pus activist for native causes andan advocate for thehomeless, has always felt alienat­ ed fromher tribe on thereservationbecause ofher desire for formal education, yet she upholdsthetribal ideal ofcommitmenttoothers. Shealoneinthenovel seems secure in who sheis. Alexie isasunkindto liberals...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 180-181
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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