"The land of the heart is the land of the West."
Catholic readers of American literature have always recognized that the difference between Eastern and Western fiction is the difference between New Canaan, Connecticut, and Tuba City, Arizona. A. Carl Bredahl's book is a comprehensive as well as original attempt at defining the nature, of that difference, which has appeared so obvious as to require no definition at all.
Professor Bredahl states his thesis forthrightly: "[M]y argument . . . is that the effort to stretch language, subject, and form characterize many of the works created by America's western writers. As individuals who value surface, these writers create works that offer a corrective and a balance to postmodern despair, ff we mistakenly assume that the traditional canon, as maintained in college reading lists and anthologies from the major eastern publishers, fully describes the American imagination, we miss a significant aspect of our culture"—as represented by such writers as Mary Austin, Sherwood Andersen, Ernest Hemingway, A.B. Guthrie, Jr., Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Harvey Fergusson, Wright Morris, and Ivan Deig. The extent to which these artists have been neglected or condescended to by the sodality exactly measures the degree to which American academics have yet to discover America.
The American literary tradition—"Edenic...