The Western Story: A Chronological Treasury

The Western Story: A Chronological Treasury

by Jon Tuska
     
 

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The Western Story: A Chronological Treasury consists of twenty Western stories spanning the years 1892 to 1994. For that generation of American writers who saw the frontier in the last century—including Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Owen Wister—it seemed exotic, strange, wonderful. Others, such as Frederic Remington and John G. Neihardt, reflected

Overview

The Western Story: A Chronological Treasury consists of twenty Western stories spanning the years 1892 to 1994. For that generation of American writers who saw the frontier in the last century—including Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Owen Wister—it seemed exotic, strange, wonderful. Others, such as Frederic Remington and John G. Neihardt, reflected the clash between various Indian nations and pioneers. These authors prepared the way for the founders of the first Golden Age of the Western story: Willa Cather, who wrote of pioneer life in Nebraska; Zane Grey, who combined wilderness experiences with romance and the search for spiritual truth; B. M. Bower, who portrayed the cowboys and frontier women she knew growing up in Montana; Max Brand, who created dramas in which the psychological and spiritual meaning of life was more important than the physical terrain; and Ernest Haycox, who combined character and drama with historical accuracy. Another generation of writers perpetuated this first Golden Age: Peter Dawson and T. T. Flynn, who began writing Western stories in the 1930s; Walter Van Tilburg Clark, who created a masterpiece in The Ox-Bow Incident; Dorothy M. Johnson and Les Savage Jr., who experimented with making the Western story still more realistic; and Louis L’Amour, whose visibility and popularity won legions of new readers to the genre. Humanity, depth, and verisimilitude were already part of the Western story when Will Henry, Elmer Kelton, and T. V. Olsen came on the scene to intensify these qualities in their own stories even as they experimented with new perspectives. And Cynthia Haseloff’s story (written especially for this collection), with its symbolism and its simplicity, may be the harbinger of a second Golden Age.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
“The attraction of the Western—be it a movie, a novel, or, as in this anthology, a short story—may be largely ethical. In the absence of established law, on the fringe of civilization, uprooted and starting new lives, settlers and farmers and ranchers confront issues of ownership and control, of means and ends, of exploitation and resistance.”—Washington Post Book World
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe
“Terrific stories, a thought-provoking introduction. What more can the . . . western reader demand of a collection?”—Amarillo Sunday News-Globe
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Western writers are often thought of as hacks who churn out volumes of clichd prose. Not true, asserts editor Tuska, who has collected 20 generally excellent western short stories into this substantially revised version of his 1982 collection, The American West in Fiction (11 stories are new; six new authors are represented). Examples of the genre here date from 1892 to 1994 and include a stable of notable western writers, including Owen Wister, Zane Grey, Max Brand and Louis L'Amour; among the less well-known but equally proficient authors are Elmer Kelton, B.M. Bower and T.V. Olsen. (The lack of entries by such contemporary high-profile practitioners as Loren D. Estleman and J.R. Lansdale may relate to the fact that every story new to this revised version appears by arrangement with a single literary agency.) Evading stereotype, most of these tales are unique in setting, focus or narrative. The character-driven yarns of Frederic Remington and Kelton and the theme-driven stories of Brand and Ernest Haycox all feature cowboys, soldiers, Indians, outlaws and pioneer women in abundance. Superstition, mystery and murder also have a niche in western writing, as shown in pieces by Les Savage Jr. and Cynthia Haseloff. Unfortunately, Tuska's historically oriented introduction is laden with references to Carl Jung, George Orwell, Herodotus and Polybius. Readers are advised to skip it and directly saddle up to the exciting high plains, hoofbeats and hot lead of the tales themselves. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803294394
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
11/01/1999
Pages:
404
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 8.82(h) x 1.33(d)

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Meet the Author

Jon Tuska is the author or editor of numerous works about the American West, including Stories of the Far North (Nebraska 1998).

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