Foster excels at both halves of the weird western in a complete collection of his tightly built folk stories featuring intimidatingly gigantic, bearded, odiferous, and perhaps insane magician and mountain man Amos Malone and his unicorn mount, Worthless. They confront challenges as diverse as cooking, gardening, and verbal sparring, always trying to assist “good folk” when “bad folk” cause them trouble. (Whites, Natives, foreigners, and strange spirits appear in both categories.) This volume includes the 10 stories in 1996’s Mad Amos Malone, seven stories published since 2006, and one new story, “Stuck,” with introductions in which Foster describes great tales as coming from the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate elements. The consistent rhythms of Foster’s language, his shaggy-dog puns, and the distinctive clarity of Malone’s rough yet occasionally educated voice draw readers quickly into the each story’s mood while maintaining strong connections between the pieces. However, readers who are less than headlong fans of Malone may find the newer pieces lean a bit too heavily on the established ones and are less prone to delight and surprise. (July)
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