West Of 98: Living and Writing the New American West

West Of 98: Living and Writing the New American West

by Lynn Stegner
     
 

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What does it mean to be a westerner? With all the mythology that has grown up about the American West, is it even possible to describe "how it was, how it is, here, in the West—just that," in the words of Lynn Stegner? Starting with that challenge, Stegner and Russell Rowland invited several dozen members of the western literary tribe to write about living

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Overview

What does it mean to be a westerner? With all the mythology that has grown up about the American West, is it even possible to describe "how it was, how it is, here, in the West—just that," in the words of Lynn Stegner? Starting with that challenge, Stegner and Russell Rowland invited several dozen members of the western literary tribe to write about living in the West and being a western writer in particular. West of 98 gathers sixty-six literary testimonies, in essays and poetry, from a stellar collection of writers who represent every state west of the 98th parallel—a kind of Greek chorus of the most prominent voices in western literature today, who seek to "characterize the West as each of us grew to know it, and, equally important, the West that is still becoming."

In West of 98, western writers speak to the ways in which the West imprints itself on the people who live there, as well as how the people of the West create the personality of the region. The writers explore the western landscape—how it has been revered and abused across centuries—and the inescapable limitations its aridity puts on all dreams of conquest and development. They dismantle the boosterism of manifest destiny and the cowboy and mountain man ethos of every-man-for-himself, and show instead how we must create new narratives of cooperation if we are to survive in this spare and beautiful country. The writers seek to define the essence of both actual and metaphoric wilderness as they journey toward a West that might honestly be called home.

A collective declaration not of our independence but of our interdependence with the land and with each other, West of 98 opens up a whole new panorama of the western experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Editors Stegner (Because a Fire Was in My Head) and Rowland (Open Spaces), and the writers they've gathered, ask what it means to be a Westerner. Many of the stories, poems, and essays in this enjoyable collection touch on widely recognized images—cowboys, cattle, the Great Plains—while others present frank, forthright arguments about race and politics specific to the states west of the 98th meridian, which runs from Texas to North Dakota. Understanding the beauty and aridity of this inhospitable land proves as essential as understanding its people. While pastoral reminiscences by Louise Erdrich and Larry McMurtry are memorable, the book's strongest voices take a critical stance. In Stephen Graham Jones's terrifying "Two Illustrations of the West," he explores the dark sub-culture of road-side violence. In "A Dark Light in the West: Racism and Reconciliation," Barry Lopez tackles the history of racism in Oregon and "the deep wounds engendered by Manifest Destiny." This comprehensive and sometimes contradictory collection offers as much pleasure as scholarly merit. (Sept.)
Bloomsbury Review
"One of the glories of this book is that it is host to 67 writers...Voices and viewpoints are left out, but that does not diminish the value and pleasure of West of 98."
Bloomsbury Review - Tom Wylie
One of the glories of this book is that it is host to 67 writers...Voices and viewpoints are left out, but that does not diminish the value and pleasure of West of 98.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292726864
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Pages:
380
Sales rank:
734,019
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Bloomsbury Review - Tom Wylie
One of the glories of this book is that it is host to 67 writers...Voices and viewpoints are left out, but that does not diminish the value and pleasure of West of 98.

Meet the Author

Lynn Stegner is the author of four works of fiction, three of them novels—Because a Fire Was in My Head (which won the Faulkner Award for Best Novel, was a Literary Ventures Selection, a Book Sense Pick, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice); Undertow; Fata Morgana; and the novella triptych, Pipers at the Gates of Dawn (Faulkner Society Gold Medal in the novella category).

Russell Rowland has published two novels, In Open Spaces, which earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and made the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bestseller List, and The Watershed Years, which was a finalist for the High Plains Book Award for fiction.

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