Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers

Kim Barnes, Editor, Mary Clearman Blew, Editor Penguin Books $20 (416p) ISBN 978-0-14-023524-1
Through poems, essays and stories from 35 contributors, readers can travel into a world of rodeos, saloons, canyons, sagebrush, isolation and wilderness, immersing themselves, like the narrator in editor Blew's piece, ``bone-deep in landscape.'' What Teresa Jordan calls the ``interior'' or ``hidden stories'' of family, loneliness and emotional trial have been largely passed over by traditional male Western storytellers, but this collection offers insight into more intimate epics like Jordan's story of an Indian girl and her father, an ex-convict unable to make a life for himself off the reservation, who teaches her to make her life ``her own.'' The collection starts with Blew's nostalgic blurring of dream and memory but ends with Terry Tempest Williams's ``The Clan of One-Breasted Women'' about a Utah Mormon who discovers that the flash of light she thought was a dream was a real nuclear explosion and breaks with conservative tradition by questioning authority when her mother, both grandmothers and six aunts develop breast cancer. Although there are flawed contributions, this evocative collection with works by Tess Gallagher, Melanie Rae Thon, Anita Endrezze, Gretel Ehrlich, Cyra McFadden and others, coheres in examining Western myths and traditions through the lives of women. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!