THE OX-BOW INCIDENT by Walter Van Tilburg Clark


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This is Random House's big dark horse of the Fall. I think you'd better have a look at it yourself, for I am completely bewildered as to why they feel it is a ""once-in-a-blue-moon-discovery"" -- or that Clark is ""a new author of really first-rate importance"". It is a psychological western, if there can be such a contradiction in terms. The outline of the story is slight enough:- there has been rustling, there has been a murder; the partner of the dead man and a group of excited citizens make up a posse, which includes the important citizens of the town and the riffraff of the saloon and two cowboys, Gil and the one who tells the story, both somewhat under a cloud of suspicion because they drifted in just at the wrong moment. There is a lynching -- and a suicide. But the story is really the struggle in the men's minds for the decision to defy legal justice and to accept the men's guilt on slim evidence, bare suspicion. It is a skillful laying bare with a knife the thoughts and emotions of men -- quiveringly open to the reader's gaze. Therein, Clark has been eminently successful. But I, for one, did not feel it enough. Perhaps I don't like that sort of story handled in that way. In any case, I found that the story dragged, that the wavering back and forth, the mental struggle was first fatiguing, then boring. I decided it must be a man's book, so I gave it to my best export on Westerns. He, too, was bored. So -- that's that.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1940
ISBN: 0375757023
Publisher: Random House