The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

In that introduction Sonnichsen reminds us anew that styles change
in humor as in underwear and that western stereotypes offer limit-
less opportunity for satire. His focus is on contemporary humor pro-
duced by writers of the Rocky Mountain region. The earliest selection
is from New Mexico's Frank Applegate, whose work dates from the late
192os; the other examples are drawn from the last twenty-five years.
Sonnichsen confesses more than once to the frustration of having to
make choices, but even as he bites the bullet, he informs the reader of
other good reading opportunities. It seems pointless to point out favor-
ite passages from this collection, since each reader would respond dif-
ferently to what is presented. To sum up: here is a book that would
make a splendid gift for any friend or family member with even a
smidgeon of humor or literacy.
Institute of Texan Cultures AL LOWMAN
Some Strange Corners of Our Country: The Wonderland of the Southwest. By
Charles F. Lummis. Foreword by Lawrence Clark Powell. (Tucson:
University of Arizona Press, 1989. Pp. xvii+27o. Foreword, illus-
trations. $12.95, paper.)
Letters from the Southwest, September 20, 1884, to March 14, i885. By
Charles Lummis. Edited by James W. Byrkit. (Tucson: University
of Arizona Press, 1989. Pp. xlix+309. Acknowledgments, intro-
duction, illustrations, bibliographical essay, index. $29.95-)
These volumes make available two popular treatments of the Ameri-
can Southwest by a man who was neither a novelist nor an historian.
Charles Lummis was, instead, a romancer whose florid prose and will-
ingness to be inventive with reality made him one of the Southwest's
most engaging travel writers.
Both volumes have excellent introductions. James W. Byrkit's meticu-
lous attention to the details of Lummis's life and his comments on the
differences between Lummis's first and second sets of letters about the
Southwest provide a meaningful context for readers not familiar with
Lummis. Byrkit's sound research and clear writing make Lummis's pe-
culiar strengths and excesses appealing. Lummis was a man incapable
of telling plain truth. Yet he was not a liar. Instead, he mused upon
truth and shaped it to suit the audiences he was paid to please. Byrkit's
bibliographical essay and the carefully done index enhance this edition
of letters Lummis sent to a Chillicothe, Ohio, newspaper, the Leader.
Equally appealing is Some Strange Corners of Our Country with a fore-
word by Lawrence Clark Powell. Like Byrkit, Powell provides a valu-
able introduction. Byrkit and Powell have sympathetic understandings
of Lummis's desire to write material for a general audience rather than

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed May 25, 2015.