Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly 32:1 (Winter 2012).
Much contemporary western writing, including memoirs such as Judy Blunt's Breaking Clean (2003), abandons the mythic character of early western narratives, striving instead for realism. These two collections of essays do one better offering a satisfying blend of stark realism and wistful nostalgia for heroic western archetypes. With contrasting educational backgrounds and biographies, their authors show us the West from widely different perspectives: Mogen has taught English at Colorado State University for many years; Auker married at nineteen and has worked on ranches ever since. Yet both strike a similar balance, capturing the harsh truths of western living while describing with enthusiasm and awe figures and landscapes plucked straight from western lore.