Ah.  In the mail today, two copies of the new issue of Southwest American Literature featuring a scholar essay by yours truly on Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry and their various uses of the West as a literary genre.   I focus on two barfights–one in the text(s) of each author–and blow that up into a greater issue of reader response.  In fact, reader response seems increasingly important to the study of Western American literature, even though in the larger world of literary criticism it’s gone the way of the dodo.  On the other hand, Western American lit has gone the same way in the eyes of the litcrit scene (with the possible exception of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian) so perhaps it’s a perfect combo.  

This essay of mine has been, by the way, extracted from my dissertation.  I’m still in the epic process of trying to put that together into some kind of book manuscript.  Like most first drafts, it’s just not that good–or it’s good enough for a Ph.D. (I guess that’s pretty good) but not really good enough to stand in the larger field  of international scholarship.  Not yet, but it’s making progress.  The SWL piece is a solid freestanding excerpt and I’m trying to get another chunk together for publication for Clio: A Journal of Literature, History and the Philosophy of History.  Now doesn’t that sound fascinating?  In any case, it does for me.