Western regionalism, immigrants, farmlife


Like Wallace Stegner, Sophus Keith Winther feels uncomfortable with the label "Western writer." For Stegner, the label too often smacks of horse-opera: outworn myths that lacked historical basis to begin with. Winther's objection has less to do with the subject matter, more to do with themes and character: regionalism-whether Western or Southers, or Wessex-too often exploits superficial traits of locality, whereas enduring literature reveals the universal drama of the human condition ("The Limits of Regionalism"). Stegner and Winther agree, however, that a writer should begin with what he or she knows best; if one's experience is Western, then Western regionalism may well be the soil in which one's art will germinate. WInther's Grimsen trilogy is firmly rooted in the Nebraska farmlands, and his Beyond the Garden Gate fairly shimmers with the lush, rainsoaked WIllamette Valley of Oregon. The places where he grew up have become the vital scenes for his fiction: his characters, often recognizably drawn from reallife, work out their destinies in a social context that is indigenous to the natural setting.