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Reviews 87 tion, which makes a fine companion piece to his other collection of short works, Indian Tales & Others. TIMOTHY A. THOMAS Fort Collins, Colorado Horsing Around: Contemporary Cowboy Humor. Edited by Lawrence Clayton and Kenneth W. Davis. (Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1991. 244 pages, $34.95/$16.95.) Lawrence Clayton and Kenneth Davis have long been associated with the folklore of Texas and particularly with cowboy culture. In this newest addition to the Wayne State University Press Humor in Life and Letters Series, they combine their talents to open another dimension of western letters that hasn’t been previously explored, at least not in this way. Collected in this volume are several dozen stories and anecdotes by ten writers who have direct connections to the contemporary cowboy of Texas. From these writers, they have gleaned the funny, the outrageous, and sometimes the poignantly revealing truths about an often ignored subculture of the Southwest. This volume appeals most in its diversity. From the cruder tales of Curt Brummett to the imaginative stories ofJohn (“Hank the Cowdog”) Erickson to the more delicate pen of Carolyn Osborn, the book offers a complete tour of cowboying as seen from the inside and outside. Elmer Kelton, Benjamin Capps, and Paul Patterson are also represented, as are Clayton and Davis themselves. Famed cartoonist and humorist Ace Reid has illustrated the volume, and he appears often as the subject of some of the stories. Although the book is made up of writing that is neither pure folklore nor pure fiction, the stories in this volume are rich in the comedy of West Texas. They address the state of the contemporary cowboy, of his tie to the myths of the past, and of the current state of his affairs, such as they are, such as they will be, such as they have always been. Although always humorous, they also bespeak a kind of sadness in the passing of a way of life that has, more than any other, come to identify the West and the Westerner. I highly recommend this collec­ tion to anyone who has a yen to ride once more into the “thrilling days of yesteryear,”but this time armed more often with a smile than a six-shooter. CLAYREYNOLDS The University ofNorth Texas The Gold Rush and Other Stories. By Gerald Locklin. (Long Beach, California: Applezaba Press, 1989. 176 pages, $24.95.) Though it has a certain raw energy and captures the vacuous glamour of Southern California life rather pungently, this new collection of short fiction by Gerald Locklin is ultimately an unsavory read, and may alienate much of its potential audience. Nearly every story among the nine features a narrator whose 88 Western American Literature puerile sexual insecurities, contempt for women, and cranky anti-intellectualism rankle the reader; the final story, an incest fantasy, is downright repugnant. All the more unfortunate, because Locklin has some literary gifts, and if he could get beyond his preoccupation with the role of libidinous curmudgeon, he might produce more commendable work. The collection opens with a rambling tribute to Charles Bukowski, whose image as crusty satyr the narrator clearly means to emulate. In “The Bukowski/ Barfly Narrative,”Locklin attempts to interweave several thematic strands—the narrator’s disaffection for the academic profession, his lament for the Babylonish excesses of contemporary Los Angeles, and his identification with Bukowski as the mentor of his id. But whatever imaginative possibilities these themes might inspire, the story is marred by the narrator’s shrill misogyny and his tendency to lapse into the language of academic criticism, interrupting the story’s already weak momentum. Other stories are more structurally coherent, but repeatedly feature the same male protagonist whose mawkish self-absorption and adolescent sexual ego undercut the reader’s interest or affection. Moreover, there is little action or development in these narratives, robbing them of drama or conflict; most are musings about failed marriages, unsatisfactory relationships with parents and children, embarrassing affairs with coeds, and the pretensions of academia. An exception is the title story, where a wife and husband deceive each other in turn over the family’s investments. Though cleverly plotted and a refreshing break from the tiresome...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 87-88
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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