Fiction and Folklore

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West Bound: Stories of Providence

Robert Gish

These interlocking stories begin with foundation tales of the migration of JJ, his wife Naomi, and their son Otis from their chaotic family beginnings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to their settlement in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the 1920s. Stories in the second section treat Otis's coming of age amid the shifting fortunes of his family and friends. The third section considers events ranging from whimsical to tragic that occur in other peoples' lives in the same place and time. Gish recalls a world where although the workings of Providence are hard to fathom and their outcome is often hard to bear, we must accept them because our very lives are built upon them. From the Tulsa race riots of 1921 to Buck's last coon hunt, the reader is never left in a completely comfortable place, though one may see "after the fact" a rough justice at work.

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Robert F. Gish is the author of over a dozen works of fiction and memoir, folktales, and literary biographies and essays. His story collections include Bad Boys and Black Sheep (1996), Dreams of Quivira (1996), and First Horses: Stories of the New West (1993); he also has written a memoir of growing up in the west, Songs of My Hunter Heart (1992). He taught at the University of Northern Iowa from 1967-91 and served as director of ethnic studies and professor of English at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo from 1991 to 2001. Of Cherokee-Anglo American descent, Gish lives with his wife Judith in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


"An interesting slice-of-life read with a historical focus on life in the west, it should appeal to those who enjoy such a setting."


UNM Daily Lobo

"Gish's gifts as a folklorist are more than evident in West Bound, they particularly shine in these tales, told as though he were speaking from the next bar stool or across a flickering campfire."


The Albuquerque Journal, NM

"The stories are sometimes amusing and sometimes tragic, but they are always interesting. The reader feels as though he is sitting in front of a potbellied stove, listening to Gish tell them."


The Oklahoman

"Robert Gish writes a compelling and delightful collection of short stories that will make you frown, smile, and laugh out loud."


Historical Novels Review

Published By West End Press

6 x 9 in. 136 pages