Nine previously unpublished stories and a novella written between 1948-1988, by the author of the novel To Raise a Rainbow (1980): pictures of small-town and rural America drawn with intelligence and charm--in spite of a tendency to hammer the messages home. The West of the title is "Fort Union" (a place much like Portland, Oregon), the setting for the novella "Up on Beechwood Drive," narrated by the alternating voices, first, of the busybody Mrs. Ayers--who spies on the neighbor Gordon Hanmer when he's brought home from a sanitarium by a mysterious woman and her dark-skinned, lame young son--and, second, of the son, Larry (actually Lorenzo), who secretly becomes friends with Mrs. Ayers' daughter, eventually learns the secret of his parentage, and speaks in elevated language ("the antiphonal monotony of the katydids") presumably to indicate his frustrated yearning for an education. More successful is "The Duplicity of Grandfather Bowen": a lonely child is cheered by her grandfather's stories about the courageous great-grandmother Abigail she was named for--until she learns that the stories are appropriated from history books. The East is "Afton County" in the Massachusetts Berkshires; its gossipy inhabitants with their often stunted lives do not always ring true; but "The Fox Kill," perhaps the best story in the collection, is stark and striking: a farm woman, who bears only a retarded daughter instead of the longed-for sons, becomes haunted and destroyed by her failure to save a pregnant vixen from pursuing hounds. Humane, old-fashioned tales of small-town life.