THE BEST OF THE WEST 5: New Stories from the West Side of the Missouri by James & Denise Thomas--Eds. Thomas

THE BEST OF THE WEST 5: New Stories from the West Side of the Missouri

Email this review


The fifth volume in a series: 15 stories set in the West, all previously published, some by better-known writers, others by newcomers--but, generally, all iow-key and realistic, differing from their eastern counterparts only by virtue of landscape and its significance. Most of these pieces could have been written by Raymond Carver. Christopher Tilghman's ""The Way People Run,"" for example, takes a man who has lost his high-powered job out East and has him arrive, after an unsuccessful job-hunting trip on the West Coast, in the desert town where his grandfather once lived. Before heading out, he becomes involved in small ways with the town's last shreds of life and even has an affair. The story is almost all texture. Likewise, Mary Morris's disappointing ""Around the World"" runs its minimalist riff by combining a laundromat, a carnival, a striking stranger, and a married woman who--for the first time in her life--becomes interested in another man. Tom McNeal's ""What Happened in Tully"" is impressive for its novelistic scope, but finally the long account of a man to whom ""pals and girls came easy"" is predictable and flat. The best tales here are the ones that slant away from such deadpan realism. Alison Baker's ""How I Came West, and Why I Stayed,"" for instance, is a good-natured comic take on an Indiana girl who goes West and meets the likes of Buffalo Gal as she searches for cheerleaders who've never been seen but ""were part of the mountain mythology."" Likewise, Ron Carlson's ""DeRay"" is part Carver, but also part T.C. Boyle--realism meets black humor. Includes an introduction by William Kittredge. This one's not the equal of previous editions, but, overall, its quality is still high as it chronicles, mostly, the evolution of ennui in the New West.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton