Ian Frazier is the author of eleven books, including Great Plains, Family, On the Rez, and Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces.
 (December 2017)


Texas Chronicles

Cybill Shepherd in Peter Bogdanovich’s film adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, 1971

Thalia: A Texas Trilogy

by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry wrote his first novel, Horseman, Pass By, in 1958, when he was just out of college, and he published it in 1961. His second, Leaving Cheyenne, came out in 1963. He published his third, The Last Picture Show, in 1966, when he was thirty. In the small Ohio …

A Vast and Terrifying Saga

Annie Proulx near Sheridan, Wyoming, 1996


by Annie Proulx
I wonder what old-time tellers of stories about the American West would make of Annie Proulx. If you told writers like Owen Wister (The Virginian) or Willa Cather (O Pioneers!) or A.B. Guthrie (The Way West) or Jack Schaefer (Shane) or Dorothy M. Johnson (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence) …

The Magic of the Oldest Pueblo

Edward S. Curtis: Feast Day at Acoma, 1904

How the World Moves: The Odyssey of an American Indian Family

by Peter Nabokov

The Origin Myth of Acoma Pueblo

by Edward Proctor Hunt, with an introduction by Peter Nabokov, translated from the Keresan by Henry Wayne Wolf Robe Hunt and Wilbert Edward Blue Sky Eagle Hunt
About a hundred years ago, footloose men and women of a certain romantic disposition discovered the American Southwest and were blown away. The dramatic landscape, the largely intact Native American culture, the atmosphere of ancient mysteries preserved in dry desert air—all combined to put a powerful charm on their minds.

Who Can Find the True West?

Jackson Pollock: Going Wes, 1934–1935

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

by Rinker Buck
A few years ago I discovered that I am what is called a “rut nut.” I had known for a long time that the ruts of long-abandoned trails and historic highways fascinate me. In western North Dakota, at the grassy, overgrown rise where Fort Union, a fur-trading fort near the …

A Strangely Funny Russian Genius

Daniil Kharms, early 1930s

“I Am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary”: The Notebooks, Diaries, and Letters of Daniil Kharms

selected, translated from the Russian, and edited by Anthony Anemone and Peter Scotto

Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms

edited and translated from the Russian by Matvei Yankelevich
Given the disaster Russian history has been more or less continuously for the last five centuries, its humor is of the darkest, most extreme kind. Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.

‘A New Way of Life’

Dale Carnegie returning to New York from Europe on the SS Normandie, 1938

Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America

by Steven Watts
An early edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie—say, a copy from 1936, the year the book came out—is nothing special to look at. It has no bullet points, no triumphal photos of the author, no boldface chapter headings. Mostly it’s just plain text. From …

Let Us Now Praise James Agee

Walker Evans: Crossroads Store, Post Office, Sprott, Alabama, circa 1935–1936

Cotton Tenants: Three Families

by James Agee and Walker Evans, edited by John Summers and with a preface by Adam Haslett
Amazing to think that in 1936 the editors of Fortune magazine cared enough about the hard lives of tenant farmers in the South’s Cotton Belt that they sent a reporter and a photographer to Alabama to do a story on them. One explanation is that the magazine was going through …


Alaska Through New Eyes

The whaling schooner San Jose, Bering Sea, circa 1886

In 1886, the sole representative of American authority in Alaskan waters was the US Revenue Cutter Bear, a 198-foot, reinforced-hull vessel powered by both steam and sail. Newly published photographs from the Bear’s cruise that summer chronicle its journey from San Francisco to Alaska and Siberia, and are among the earliest photos of that part of the world.