Wednesday, January 26, 2022

SSW/FFB: First Installment: WESTERYEAR edited by Edward Gorman (M. Evans 1988); THE NEW FRONTIER edited by Joe R. Lansdale (Doubleday 1989); DREAMERS AND DESPERADOES edited by Craig Lesley and Katheryn Stavrakis (Dell 1993)

Some of the titles of the stories collected in these volumes use, for critical purposes, epithets.

WESTERYEAR edited by Edward Gorman (M. Evans 1988; G. K. Hall 1990)
Introduction * Edward Gorman (in) ** (**noting originally published in this volume) --and each item below with a headnote by Gorman
The Sun Stood Still * "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust) (ss) The American Magazine December 1934
Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses * "Mark Twain" (Samuel Clemens) (ar) North American Review July 1895
The Return of a Private * Hamlin Garland (ss) The Arena, V.3 N.1 (January?) 1891
The Idyl of Red Gulch * Bret Harte (ss) Overland Monthly December 1869 
The Lonesome Road * "O. Henry" (William Porter) (ss) Ainslee’s Magazine September 1903
One Dash—Horses (aka Horses) * Stephen Crane (ss) The New Review #81, February 1896 (and newspaper syndication in the U.S. in January of that year)
The Streets of Laredo * "Will Henry" (Henry Allen) (ss) Western Roundup--a WWA anthology editorially attributed to Nelson Nye (Macmillan 1961)
The Hard Way * Elmore Leonard (ss) Zane Grey’s Western Magazine August 1953
Mago's Bride * Loren D. Estleman  ** 
All the Long Years * Bill Pronzini **
The Damned * Greg Tobin **
Wolf Night * Bill Crider **
Liberty * Al Sarrantonio **

Trains Not Taken * Joe R. Lansdale (ss) RE:AL: Regarding Arts & Letters Spring 1987
Whores in the Pulpit * Thomas Sullivan **
Guild and the Indian Woman * Edward Gorman **
A Cowboy for a Madam * Barbara Beman **
One Night at Medicine Tail *  Chad Oliver **
The Time of the Wolves * Marcia Muller **
Hacendado * James M. Reasoner **
The Battle of Reno's Bend * L. J. Washburn **

Index revised and corrected from the WorldCat Index, with links to ISFDB, the FictionMags Index and other databases. Page numbers differ between the two editions.

THE NEW FRONTIER edited by Joe R. Lansdale (Doubleday/Double D 1989)
(Doubleday 0-385-24569-6, May ’89, $12.95, 180pp, hc) Original western anthology of 18 stories and a poem with an introduction by Lansdale and an afterword to a “lost” "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust) story by William F. Nolan. At least four of the stories are also fantasy.
Slightly augmented from the currently offline Locus Index.

DREAMERS AND DESPERADOES edited by Craig Lesley and Katheryn Stavrakis (Dell/Laurel 1993) 

1 * Introduction(s) * Craig Lesley and Katheryn Stavrakis (in)
15 * Sweetheart * Kathleen Alcalá (ex) Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist Calyx Books 1992
Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams / Rudolfo A. Anaya --
Heartwood / Rick Bass --
The Snowies, the Judiths / Mary Clearman Blew --
Bigfoot Stole My Wife; I am Bigfoot / Ron Carlson --
Paraiso: an Elegy / Rick DeMarinis --
Winter of '19 / Ivan Doig --
Science Meets Prophecy / David James Duncan --
Cry About a Nickel / Percival Everett --
Optimists / Richard Ford --
Girls / Tess Gallagher --
Personal Silence / Molly Gloss --
Nebraska / Ron Hansen --
Friends and Fortunes / Linda Hogan --
A Family Resemblance / James D. Houston --
Rock Garden / Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston --
The Flower Girls / Lawson Fusao Inada --
Death by Browsing / Karen Karbo--
I Could Love You (If I Wanted) / John Keeble --
Why I am a Danger to the Public / Barbara Kingsolver --
Do You Hear Your Mother Talking? / William Kittredge --
Nevada Dreams / David Kranes --
Eggs ; Absences : Cicadas ; Growing Tomatoes / Alex Kuo --
Sleepwalkers / Ursula K. Le Guin --
Mint / Craig Lesley --
The Interior of North Dakota / Barry Lopez --
The Woman Who Would Eat Flowers / Colleen McElroy --
Dropping Anchor / Valerie Miner --
Idaho Man / John Rember --
Slaughterhouse / Greg Sarris --
Whitney and Tracie / Carolyn See --
Emerald City: Third & Pike / Charlotte Watson Sherman --
It's Come to This / Annick Smith --
Sea Animals / Tom Spanbauer --
The Room / Katheryn Stavrakis --
Pragmatists / Robert Stubblefield --
Migrants / Elizabeth Tallent --
Double Face / Amy Tan --
Boat People / Joyce Thompson --
Talking to the Dead / Sylvia A. Watanabe --
The Indian Lawyer / James Welch --
Buried Poems / Terry Tempest Williams

Slightly corrected (and soon to be augmented) from the WorldCat index.

***Stupid publisher tricks: 
Westeryear--the first edition jacket from M. Evans (immediately above); even G. K. Hall's generic large-print-line wrap (at top of post) is a step up.

The New Frontier--jacket copy referring to Neal Barrett, Jr. as "a new discovery" in 1989, a quarter-century or so into his career; also, a jacket at least as generic if not quite as clumsy as the Evans cover for the Gorman book or D-day's package for Lansdale's previous western originals anthology, Best of the West.

Dreamers and Desperadoes--managing to leave co-editor Stavrakis's name off nearly every aspect of the packaging, save the title page, though at least the table of contents does include her introduction. Also not quite stupid but perhaps not the best choice: the reasonably handsome cover for this trade-paperback original apparently doesn't photograph too well, at least on most of the photos and scans I've seen. Hence the current slightly blurry image above...and the cover isn't the easiest to read even in the handheld presence of the potential reader (poor color choices for legibility).

And none of these received the publisher push they deserved by any means, even if the Gorman did get a second edition for large-print readers.

Westeryear's stories are, to say the least, an interesting mix of classics and contemporaries of classics, and new fiction from some of the best writers in western fiction (among work in other fields) active at time of assembly...a quality it shares with the Lansdale and Stavrakis/Lesley  volumes...even if each book has its own share of work that might fall on either side of the line established some years back by the Western Writers of America, porously between western fiction and fiction of the west (both of which they embraced). 

And then there's the Twain essay, perhaps the most famous KTF review in at least the US canon, and persuasive enough to me at age nine that I never sought out too much of Cooper's fiction, and what little I did seemed to conform to the Clemens assessment. Twain goes to a few lengths to ensure you can read his survey for humor, but nonetheless it tells, and enrages Cooper fans to this day. Editor Gorman himself isn't beyond pointing out the warts in the older reprints he offers here, or in the other work by their contributors, in his headnotes, but the stories do help add a certain perspective and none of them are difficult reading, and clearly are part of the development of the range of western fiction all the relatively contemporary writers included in all three volumes have drawn upon and reacted to. 

"Max Brand" (Frederick Faust)'s "The Sun Stood Still" is a good example of his graceful, tense writing; Gorman notes that its wit and appreciation of life as it was lived by the everyday people of the old West wasn't as widely shared by his peers (nor some of his successors), giving his work more of a contemporary if not quite timeless quality than that of many who wrote for the pulp magazines and higher-budget and yet still prone to tropism "slick" magazines in the first half of the previous century. For those who want even early western fiction to lack subtlety and a certain dramatic verisimilitude, even when the mythos of western fiction was already being employed (not too much in this decidedly unglamorized account of farmhand life), Brand doesn't help their case too much.

Hamlin Garland made a poor showing for himself (with the help of those hoping to Reach Yet Instruct Our Youth) with such widely-distributed work as his poem "Do You Fear the Force of the Wind?", unless one was looking for simpleminded machismo. But a similar devotion to simpleminded machismo on the part of, say Hemingway or Mailer (and far too many others, even if these two more flagrantly than most) didn't stop them from having a certain dalliance, at least, with social justice causes, and Garland particularly in his early career was throwing in with agrarian socialists, Populists, progressives and other troublemakers, and his fiction about, particularly, the travails of Civil War veterans and others trying to make a life in the hardscrabble, highly Gilded Age-distorted farming country of the Midwest (perhaps a bit too much like today's), struck a chord, and that's on offer with "The Return of a Private"; it's not subtle, but, as Gorman notes, Garland had an excellent eye for the small details and challenges of life.

"The Idyl of Red Gulch", being as it is a Bret Harte story, tries to couch itself as a fable perhaps a bit too much more than is good for it, but nonetheless gets across a fine account of how even in the far western U. S., the unfortunate prejudices can shoot through society once it asserts itself as post-pioneering country. Definitely romanticized, but also making its points. 

"The Lonesome Road", being as It is an "O. Henry" story, is also not quite a fable, but doesn't, unlike the Harte, call attention to its attempt at being of Great Import with every line, but rather more casually and mildly humorously gives the account of two old hell-raising friends, one of whom has now settled into a happy marriage and a more quiet life, finding themselves together having to deal with old adversaries. An interesting weighing of what makes for an actually good life, with a  rather straightforward account of what a chaotic, unromantic thing a gunfight tends to be. Gorman is particularly annoyed in his headnote about how readily Porter's work these years is condescended to as glib and mechanical, and this story helps make his case (and, fwiw, the Doubleday/Anchor folks are still branding their best stories of the year annual in his memory).

More to come. (More distractions as other parts of the ever-collapsing  house and life demand attention, not least the cat. Don't buy a century-old house. Just don't. Unless you have the money, skill or both to keep replacing everything.)


TracyK said...

I have read hardly any western stories of any length although I have good intentions. Maybe starting with short stories is a good place. All of these anthologies look fantastic. Next year at the annual book sale I will see what I can find.

George said...

Three Western anthologies that I don't own. I'll have remedy that! Ed Gorman is an underrated writer and editor. And, who doesn't like Joe R. Lansdale's work! I'm not familiar withe Craig Lesley and Katheryn Stavrakis. Sadly, these kinds of anthologies wouldn't be published today in the current publishing climate.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, Tracy, there have been any number of good western anthologies and collection over the last several decades, Bill Pronzini in whole or in part being editor to a Big Slew of them, and Ed Gorman doing his part, among others (Jon Tuska, Robert Randisi, and the lists go on). Joe Lansdale's anthologies are always good...good hunting!

Well, George, they might be published today by a small press, or if they could be tucked into a gimmick such as the current "BIG BOOK OF what-have-you" tendency. As it was, they weren't given a hell of a lot of support by their publishers when they were published. Lesley had published two novels of contemporary western fiction and had co-edited the Native Nations (US/NA) anthology TALKING LEAVES before D&D, and they were well-received; Stavrakis and he were married, and I'm not sure I've seen much else from her, and shall have to Go Look.