cover image Ghosts of Wyoming

Ghosts of Wyoming

Alyson Hagy, . . Graywolf, $15 (170pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-548-7

In her fourth collection of short stories, Hagy (Snow, Ashes ) explores the lonely state of the Equality State, with its literally and figuratively haunted inhabitants. Hagy has an ear for the locals and a feel for the vast lonely landscape, capturing modern issues like small ranchers' struggles with wolves and environmentalists, and the small details of late nights in pickups and the gradual erosion of Wyoming's landscape. Western archetypes make appearances—cowboys and Native Americans, park rangers, prospectors, and preachers, albeit sometimes with a twist. The stories range in tone from the moody mysteriousness of “Border,” about a drifter boy and his dog, and the grimness of the life of early rail workers in “Brief Lives of the Trainmen,” to humor, as in “Superstitions of the Indians,” the collection's weakest entry, about a college student worried that he might be haunted by a faculty member. Hagy is most comfortable inhabiting the past, and while the contemporary stories misfire a few times, the collection is mostly enjoyable and features a strong, dark current of empty lands, wandering spirits, and dread. (Feb.)