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190 Western American Literature wind gusting the tent in on the cookstove. Just as I was fascinated by the winter incur­ sions ofRawlins’s earlier book, Sky’s Witness, so I was intrigued by the down-to-earth realismoffurtherWyomingexperiences. But these forays take thereader beyond therugged back-country ofthe Salt River Range. Rawlins’s words lead into the “broken country”ofone’s own memories ofthat distant war and of one’s youthful plights and passions. Sometimes witty, sometimes wise, often poignant, and usually provocative, Broken Country effectively herds the readeralong.WhileI’mnotterriblyfondofsheep(neitherisRawlins), Idefinitelyfound thesepages tobe goodgrazing. ANNRONALD University ofNevada, Reno Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film. By Lee Clark Mitchell. (Chicago: UniversityofChicagoPress, 1996. 348 pages, $29.95.) Ernest Haycox. ByStephenL.Tanner. (NewYork:TwaynePublishers, 1996. 150pages, $26.95.) Novels ofthe West deservedly are subject to much scholarly interest, but popular Westernsareonlyrecentlybeginningtoreceiveacademicrespect.Tworecentbooksadd muchtoourknowledgeoftheseformulastories. LeeClarkMitchell’sWesterns provides abroad overviewofthe popularWesterngenre itself; Stephen Tanner’sErnest Haycox provides a specialized studyofone ofthe genre’sbest authors. Interestingly, Mitchell’s basic thesis inhis broad studyis borne out byTanner inhis specialized study. Thebasic themeofpopularWesternshasalwaysbeen,Mitchell’sthesisasserts, the “construction of masculinity.” Thus, Mitchell traces the development of the Western beginning with Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales through the panoramic paintings of Albert Bierstadt. Then Mitchell analyzes in detail major novels of Wister, Grey, Schaeffer, L’Amour, andmajor filmWesterns fromthefifties to the present. Westerns provides an excellent overview of the basic scholarship and the agreedupon lines of development within the genre. It is a substantial book, beautifully illus­ trated with black and white photographs of paintings and movie stills. Here, Westerns come alive because this is not so much a book about other books as a book about the Western myth itself, written by an author who has great respect for an often maligned subject.Therareclosetextual analyses ofRiders ofthe Purple Sage andHondo arepar­ ticularly useful. Also the book is documented with extensive bibliographical notes and commentary. If there is aweakness to this study, it might be that while Mitchell treats the great representative works ofthe genre to extensive analysis, he fails adequately to showthe relationshiptothelargenumbers ofotherpopular works inthefield. Forexample, Grey and L’Amour admittedly are major popular writers of Westerns, but Mitchell barely mentions Max Brand, Clarence Mulford, Luke Short, or Ernest Haycox, lesser writers but extremely popular writers intheir day. Dothe observations pertaining to the repre­ sentative novels applytothe otherformulanovels?Mitchell mightmaketheconnection clearer. Certainly, however, Mitchell’s study opens a large field ofinquiry for others to pursue. Reviews 191 Although Stephen Tanner gives no indication of familiarity with Mitchell’s concur­ rent study, Tanner’s analysis of Ernest Haycox’s short stories and novels bears out the thesis that Westerns are essentially concerned with developing an adequate conception of masculinity for their own time. Also, Tanner shows Haycox’s debt to Cooper and even to Bierstadt’s paintings for his interpretation of the West. As usual within the Twayne format, Tanner’s study gives an overview of the author’s life and all the works, notjust the most famous works. But Tanner gives us much more. He provides an excellent discussion of the popular fiction versus quality fiction controversy. In fact, his stated aim is to examine how “to evaluate a first-rate author in an allegedly second-rate genre.” Tanner also provides the most extensive biography of Haycox to date, concentrating, of course, on his development of the literary career. The book is excellently researched with extensive use of letters and other primary docu­ ments. Unfortunately, those seeking detailed studies of any particular Haycox story or novel may be disappointed in this book. No single novel receives much more than two pages of analysis. In his treatment of The Wild Bunch, Tanner even lists elements of the novel that could be analyzed. That’s fine if we were to expect some great rush on Haycox studies, but this Twayne volume may be the only study of these novels for many years. Also, unlike Lee Clark Mitchell, Tanner does not seem to respect Westerns as literature. Mitchell’s book exudes the West. We feel the movement and atmosphere of Westerns themselves. But most of Tanner’s study is devoted to showing how Haycox attempted to transcend...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 190-191
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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