A TIME AND A PLACE by William Humphrey
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Another fine collection of short stories about Oklahoma and Texas of the 1930's by the author of The Ordways (1962). The tough settlers who had conquered the Indians and the climate proudly set up towns, then they skidded to a halt as adversity (drought, poverty and the Depression) lined faces and shrank bellies. The oil strikes, capriciously appearing in the damndest places, were an almost supernatural happening and, like the good fairy's wishes, usually carried a curse. The hot sun baked open feuds, hatreds, but there was also a crazy civic pride and a clan determination not to quit. In these stories the pioneer ferocity as well as an ironic sense of individual destiny often overcome the tendency just to hang on. A young man loses his girl to the glittering riches of an oil strike, drives for the quick money and is executed. A man becomes a human fly and is hopelessly crippled in his attempt to escape the people he hates. In one amusing tale, an enterprising rainmaker has the awful luck to be followed by a wind storm and then too much rain. A grandmother remembers with open admiration the handsome corpse of a bank robber. . . The bucketing opportunism of tough but curiously innocent entrepreneurs and dead-enders, a peculiarly transitional period in the American West, is Mr. Humphrey's special province. At this time no one has come near cutting in on his holdings.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1968
Publisher: Knopf