Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly 32:2 (Spring 2012).
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.