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Still Wild: Short Fiction of the American…

Still Wild: Short Fiction of the American West 1950 to the Present

by Larry McMurtry (Editor)

Other authors: Max Apple (Contributor), Rick Bass (Contributor), Jon Billman (Contributor), Robert Boswell (Contributor), Raymond Carver (Contributor)15 more, Louise Erdrich (Contributor), Richard Ford (Contributor), William H. Gass (Contributor), Dagoberto Gilb (Contributor), Ron Hansen (Contributor), William Hauptman (Contributor), Dave Hickey (Contributor), Jack Kerouac (Contributor), Tom McGuane (Contributor), Diana Ossana (Contributor), Mark Jude Poirier (Contributor), Annie Proulx (Contributor), Leslie Marmon Silko (Contributor), Wallace Stegner (Contributor), Dao Strom (Contributor)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McMurtry, LarryEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Apple, MaxContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bass, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Billman, JonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boswell, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carver, RaymondContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Erdrich, LouiseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gass, William H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilb, DagobertoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hansen, RonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hauptman, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hickey, DaveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kerouac, JackContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGuane, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ossana, DianaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poirier, Mark JudeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Proulx, AnnieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silko, Leslie MarmonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stegner, WallaceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strom, DaoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684868822, Hardcover)

In Still Wild: Short Fiction of the American West, 1950 to the Present, Larry McMurtry gives us a depleted West. The West of McMurtry's own writing is wildly various, filled with dead ends and bright ideas, lonesome cowboys and garrulous socialites. In the 20 stories he's chosen for this anthology, it is instead an undifferentiated territory of losers: you've got your sad sacks, your screwups, your lost souls. The lucky have all gone to live somewhere else.

In any anthology, there is usually one story that rolls up its sleeves and clobbers all the others. Here it is Annie Proulx's haunting "Brokeback Mountain," the secret history of two male ranch workers who fall in love and carry on a life-long affair. Her opener also happens to give a perfect view of the landscape found in this collection: "They were raised on small, poor ranches in opposite corners of the state, Jack Twist in Lightning Flat, up on the Montana border, Ennis del Mar from around Sage, near the Utah line, both high-school drop-out country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, rough-spoken, inured to the stoic life."

Sometimes the poverty is slicked up with romance, as in Jack Kerouac's "The Mexican Girl," a lightning-hot excerpt from On the Road: "Terry and Raymond sat in the grass; we had grapes. In California you chew the juice out of the grapes and spit the skin and pits away, the gist of the grape is always wine. Nightfall came. Terry went home for supper and came to the barn at nine o'clock with my secret supper of delicious tortillas and mashed beans. I lit a wood fire on the cement floor of the barn to make light. We made love on the crates." We read of Wallace Stegner's Saskatchewan, Richard Ford's Wyoming, Mark Jude Poirier's suburban Tucson. Each story thoughtfully renders disappointment. Proulx's Jack Twist says it best: "Nothin never come to my hand the right way." The writing is above reproach, the stories are compelling, but by the end of the book they seem to be all the same story. Surely the West is bigger than this. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:49 -0400)

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A collection of twenty short fiction stories of the American West, written by a variety of contemporary authors including Louise Erdrich, Annie Proulx, William H. Gass, and others.

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