The Best of the West: New Short Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri

James Thomas, Editor
James Thomas, Editor Peregrine Smith Books $9.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-87905-332-1
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Of the omnibus's 20 stories, a few, like Elizabeth Tallent's superb ``No One's a Mystery,'' possess only indirect reference to the West, and others involve Southern characters and settings, pointing to the arbitrariness of classifying some literature by region. Richard Bausch's haunting ``The Man Who Knew Belle Starr'' is, in fact, also anthologized in Algonquin's New Stories From the South. Readers may wonder, too, why John Updike's ``Nevada,'' first published in the early '70s, is labeled here as ``new.'' Still, Thomas's ( Pictures, Moving ) first volume in a series includes many individual triumphs and, as a whole, it offers a provocative though bleak vision of American life far from the urban sprawl. Richard Ford and Raymond Carver satisfy with their customary deftness, and less-known writers account for pleasant surprises. Tom McNeal's ``True'' captures the sense of random violence that often tinges small Western towns, and Rick DeMarinis's ``Under the Wheat'' juxtaposes a man's doomed marriage with his work at nuclear silos for mesmeric effect. (Nov.)
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