New Trails: Twenty-Three Original Stories of the West

New Trails: Twenty-Three Original Stories of the West

by John Jakes

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his introduction, bestselling western novelist Jakes calls the 23 original stories presented here ``virgin territory'' because, with each story written by a member of the Western Writers of America, this is allegedly the first collection ``in twenty or thirty years'' to feature only new westerns by professional authors. Maybe so, but the territory remains fairly well intact as most of the writers, who range from top names to little-knowns, eschew new visions of the western in favor of variations on traditional themes. The stories from the more celebrated authors are strong: Elmore Leonard's "`Hurrah for Capt. Early'" thrusts a typical gunfight into a new, racially charged setting; Jakes's ``Manitow and Ironhand'' casts a weathered trapper in an almost mythic light; in Loren D. Estleman's ``Iron Heart's Story,'' an old woman lays a neat trap to invigorate her senile husband. Other authors also spin a few new twists: Marianne Willman's ``The Death(s) of Billy the Kid,'' for example, looks at that famous event from a variety of viewpoints. But while this collection includes work from women writers to an unprecedented degree and offers yarns from several different time periods, it misses the opportunity to reenergize the western or its readership (as did, for instance, the horror/western anthology Razored Saddles). Many of the stories, such as John D. Nesbitt's ``Spring Comes to the Widow,'' are classical genre pieces that will appeal to already committed western fans without reaching out to a wider public. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Answering the call from the editors for new material, several members of the Western Writers of America here offer a wide-ranging, uniformly excellent collection of original short fiction that broadens the traditional realm of the Western genre. Spanning the decades between the 1830s and the 1970s, these stories by such old hands as Loren D. Estleman and Gordon D. Shirreffs, as well as relative newcomers like Linda Sparks, introduce the reader to a host of salty characters who must come to terms with the harshness of the American West. Highly recommended for medium to large public libraries and academic libraries supporting writing programs.-Robert Jordan, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
Wes Lukowsky
These 23 original short stories from members of the Western Writers of America illustrate the genre's strength. There's a quality to the best western writing that accentuates the humanity of its people. Rather than dwarfing the characters, the vastness of the western setting somehow heightens the uniquely personal dramas being played out in archetypal terms. Among the authors represented here are Elmore Leonard, Elmer Kelton, coeditor Jakes, Ed Gorman, Judy Alter, and Loren D. Estleman. The highlights include R. C. House's contemporary tale of three "losers" who find strength and love as a trio; Robert Gleason's haunting portrait of an aged Bat Masterson; and Ed Gorman's very brief but moving tale of a father and son. Notes on the contributors are appended and include information on other works in the genre. A consistently excellent anthology.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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4.16(w) x 6.83(h) x 0.99(d)

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