Here is the first in a series of collections of the best contemporary writing to come from the American West---short stories by a diverse group of writers---young and old, male and female, well-known and not-so-known. And for the first time there appears, side-by-side with these, the work of so-called “traditional” Western writers, such as Max Evans and Elmer Kelton, and the “literary” contingent, represented by William Kittredge and Valerie Miner.
Best Stories of the American West reflects the extraordinary diversity of the culture and lifestyles of the American West. Stories by Sherman Alexie, Melanie Rae Thon, and Lannan Award winner Luis Alberto Urrea center on the world of Indian Country, a world unknown to most Americans but crucial to an understanding of American society as a whole. Elmore Leonard deals with violence and justice; Richard Cass and Steven Patterson offer dramatic stories of women engaged in perilous worlds of work and sex. Max Evans describes a cowboy life that is, in a curious way, the other side of the coin of Brokeback Mountain. There is an all-pervading, tragic sense of history in John Graves’s "The Last Running."
Well-known film director and author John Sayles offers a unique view of the working man’s Hollywood, and Geronimo Tagatac, of Filipino heritage, takes the reader through an immigrant experience typical of the West. In Drum Hadley’s “Southwest Stories,” poetry and prose merge into the tradition of mythic storytelling going back to Mark Twain and Bret Harte and returning to the present day of Gary Snyder and others. Idaho-born and -bred John Rember uses metaphor and humor to tell a story of sadness, growth, and love in “Sudden Death, Over Time,” which appears in print here for the first time.
Taken together, these twenty stories, five appearing for the first time in print, create an unparalleled picture of an enormously complex region on the map as well as a gallery of memorable characters and human conflicts.