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Muddy Fork and Other Things

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Publisher's Weekly
The section headings for the nonfictional and fictional entries in this anthology (''Journalistic Lies'' and ''Fictional Truths'') betray Crumley's bias regarding the blurred distinction between the two. Most of the pieces reflect the West that has been the writer's home: a land of men, cars and a greed that has left visible marks on the landscape, from the killing of the buffalo to the ''air-conditioned paradise on the Gulf Coast plain'' known as Houston. The stories read like sketches for lengthier works. In fact, two of the best entries (the title piece, set in Crumley's native South Texas, and the ''The Mexican Tree Duck,'' a detective tale) are beginnings of book-length works in progress. Crumley's ( The Last Good Kiss ) stories are earthy and often unnerving, the characters people who seek to flee their past only to find it waiting for them at their destination. In ''Three Cheers for Thomas J. Rabb,'' for instance, a football hero who accidentally kills an opponent on the gridiron is drafted into the army only to find events repeating themselves--not once but twice.

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