UN-DUE WEST by Roland Sodowsky


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An imaginary history of cowboying (and boots, rodeos, pickup trucks, and much more) that takes a mock-historical point of view--and is a comic entertainment for fans of western lore. Set in the ""Texas Occident"" (the invented town of Lindisfarne in western Texas) and peopled by Welsh, Germans, Mexicans, and some Native Americans, as well as transplanted New Englanders, the story's centerpiece is ""Six-Gun I-V,"" a five-part story (scattered throughout the book) about an absurd 30-year duel between Cesar Hamaker and Randall Sanchez: finally, the Chamber of Commerce builds a fence around the two and calls the resulting plaza ""Gunfight Park."" Between segments of this plot-line, anecdotal and mock-essayish pieces include ""Boots"" (Occident boots ""resemble the contours of the human foot about as much as bandannas do bananas""); ""Barbed Wire"" (treated as an art form); ""Rodeo"" (""All the constructs of our lonely desert days come to fruition during our rodeos""); ""Horse. Trailing"" (""the greatest labor-saving device of the twentieth century""); ""Cowboy Belt Buckle"" (""a central symbol of philosophical thought""); and ""Brandpainting"" (""the story of how the laborious and economically disastrous practice of brandpainting began""). All of these fictional essays are unabashedly anecdotal and convince us that Sodowsky, who grew up in Oklahoma and taught for years in West Texas, has long been a connoisseur of such myths and tidbits. An excerpt appeared in the December 1989 issue of Atlantic Monthly. Complete with glossary and illustrations, this oddity does manage to create a world unto itself--though it is still a world of regional humor that will appeal to a correspondingly limited audience.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1990
Publisher: Corona