The Best of the West 2: New Short Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri

James Thomas, Author, Denise Thomas, Editor Peregrine Smith Books $10.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-87905-162-4
This omnibus essentially accedes to the romantic notion that the American West connotes adventure, men and women with untamed passions and nature at its starkest. Although the Thomases (he co-edited Sudden Fiction ; she is a freelance writer) claim to have culled the 17 stories from 175 publications, nearly a third are from eminent national magazines such as the Atlantic . These particular entries are so superior as to produce a lopsided collection, a backward salute to the glory of already celebrated authors like Jim Harrison. Next to the measured poetics of Louise Erdrich, the belabored, workshop-style prose that afflicts many pieces is especially infelicitous: ``Emily wept, but her tears froze cold as penny nails and her upper lip seemed candlewaxed by her nose.'' Compared with Rick Bass's ``Choteau,'' a tough-minded portrait of a rough-and-tumble man facing middle age, other protagonists are drawn sentimentally, like Olive Ghiselin's elderly woman who sets out ``to make a brew that would preserve her from the teeth and claws of time.'' (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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