Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:2 (Spring 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


West of 98 is an ambitious and comprehensive collection of personal essays and poems by over sixty contributors who work to define the parameters of the American West: the vast and complex region west of the 98th meridian. As Lynn Stegner explains in the collection's introduction, the goal of the book is to offer a "Greek chorus that might define, remark upon, and otherwise characterize the West as each of [the writers] grew to know it, and equally important, the West that is still becoming." The chorus of voices featured in the collection reflects a broad range of cultural and geographical backgrounds and experiences, and many of the names will be familiar to readers of this journal: Louise Erdrich, Dan O'Brien, Ron Hansen, and Larry Woiwode to name only a few. While the contributors cover a diverse assortment of subjects related to western experience-from the meaning of grass (Erdrich), to the importance of fences (Jonis Agee), to the loneliness of the real cowboys (Larry McMurtry)-they all grapple with what it means to develop a sense of place in an environment as complex and challenging as the American West.