THE BEST OF THE WEST 3 by James & Denise Thomas--Eds. Thomas


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One of the advantages of the recent short-fiction renaissance is that regional anthologies now publish some stories that are first-rate rather than merely regional. The 16 stories here (mixed in quality), which provide a variety of perspectives on the contemporary American West, were all published in the last year. The selections have been culled from a wide range of publications (The New Yorker, Grand Street, Shenandoah, Puerto del Sol, etc.) and authors (Laura Hendrie, Lisa Sandlin, Mark Litwicki, Lesley Poling-Kempes et al.) both known and unknown. Some of the best include: Christopher Tilghman's epic ""Hole in Day,"" about a husband who searches through the West for (and eventually Finds) the desolate wife who's left him and her four children; Rick Bass' ""Heartwood,"" about two boys (""cold young men and already wild"") who spike trees, affecting an entire valley community; Rick DeMarinis' ""Desert Places,"" about a man who takes his daughter to a small desert town in hopes that such an environment, as well as the influence of his mother, will tranquilize her and lead to the cessation of a mother-daughter battle of wills back home; and Dagoberto Gilb's ""The Senora,"" a stark sketch about a wealthy widow's tense life and sudden demise. There are other notable offerings from Michael Delp (""Draft Horse""), Elizabeth Tallent (""Honey""), David Dranes (""The Man Who Might Have Been My Father""), and Robyn Oughton (""Crazy River""). Disappointments include stories by Chris Spain (a good-old-boy romp justified a priori) and T.M. McNally (finally sentimental). A decent if unspectacular anthology, then, that should be of particular interest to readers in western states.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Gibbs Smith