What a pleasure it is to share some of my own book news. As most of you know (especially here in Hollywood), producer David Milch has moved on to other settings since his HBO frontier drama Deadwood (2004-2006), but some of us just can’t get the foul-mouthed Swearengen and Bullock out of our minds. I’m delighted that editors Melody Graulich and Nicholas Witschi have included my essay, “The Final Stamp: Deadwood and the Gothic American Frontier,” in their recent scholarly volume about the show, Dirty Words in Deadwood: Literature and the Postwestern (University of Nebraska Press). As Graulich observes in her introduction to the collection: “With its emotional coherence, compelling characterizations, compressed structural brilliance, moral ambiguity, language experiments, interpretation of the past, relevance to the present, and engagement with its literary forebears, Deadwood is an aesthetic triumph as historical fiction and, like much great literature, makes a case for the humanistic value of storytelling.”
I reviewed Brian McGinty’s The Oatman Massacre (University of Oklahoma Press) for Western American Literature, the quarterly journal of the Western Literature Association. McGinty’s book revisits a historical episode in which a group of dissident Mormons heading to Arizona in 1851 were attacked by Indians. Two young Mormon girls were taken captive, and one of them (named Olive) lived with Indians for six years before returning to white society. McGinty’s work is related to my dissertation, “The Haunted Frontier: Troubling Gothic Conventions in Nineteenth-Century Literature of the American West.” My review of McGinty’s book begins, “The literary history of the Indian captivity narrative is strewn with inaccuracies and racial prejudices, and the work of historical correction in many cases is long overdue.” You can read the rest of my review here:
Brian McGinty, The Oatman Massacre: A Tale of Desert Captivity and Survival (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), Western American Literature 42.1 (2007): 88-89.
I reviewed Kate Phillips’s Helen Hunt Jackson: A Literary Life (University of California Press) for Western American Literature, the quarterly journal of the Western Literature Association. I’ve never been to the Ramona Pageant (would love to go), but I wrote about Jackson’s Ramona in my dissertation, “The Haunted Frontier: Troubling Gothic Conventions in Nineteenth-Century Literature of the American West.” My review of Phillips’s book begins, “One can imagine the elation biographer Kate Phillips felt, after working for eight years on her biography of Helen Hunt Jackson, to receive a call from Jackson’s great-grandnephew telling her he had just discovered a suitcase full of Jackson’s long-missing letters.” You can find the rest of my review here: