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Southwestern American Literature

Southwestern American Literature is a biannual scholarly journal that includes literary criticism, fiction, poetry, and book reviews concerning the Greater Southwest.

Since its inception in 1971, the journal has published premier works by and about some of the most significant writers of the region.

Southwestern American Literature is indexed in The MLA International Bibliography, which can be found in most North American and European higher-education institutions, and Humanities International Complete, which can be found in libraries throughout North America.

ISSN 0049-1675

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Current Issue: Volume 40. Number 2 - Spring 2015

A few years ago I went on a big road trip I called my Blood Meridian odyssey. The plan was to visit as many places mentioned in the novel, at least those I knew I could get to. I’m sure I am not the first to do this, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. McCarthy’s masterpiece is filled with historical references so it was pretty daunting, but I made a map outlining the journey of the kid and Glanton’s gang and decided to follow it as best I could. I missed a few spots (I stayed north of the border), but after seeing the abandoned churches, cliff dwellings, and landscapes I feel much more involved and aware when I reread the book.

I left early in the morning and shot across I-10 toward Fort Stockton. I dipped down to the Davis Mountains to see what I could find out about Chief Gómez. I had driven around the Davis Mountains before and love to see them again. A park ranger at Fort Davis National Historic site helped me look at some old military maps and pointed out where he thought the “terror of Chihuahua” might have held out during his last days.

The next morning, after camping at the base of the Guadalupe mountains and researching the Mescalero Apache, I headed west toward New Mexico and Arizona. I drove along the back roads and prayed to find some place where I could find a cup of coffee. Caffeine withdrawal punished me with a splitting headache. I sped along the flat highway across the desert and listened to static on the radio as I gave two finger waves to the occasional other driver going in the opposite direction. Part of me really wanted to locate a nice diner where I could load up on huevos rancheros and drink coffee until I felt human, but I knew I needed to stop at the Hueco tanks first.

In chapter thirteen of Blood Meridian there is a brief scene at the Hueco tanks where the judge cuts out a pictograph from a rock. It is one of those parts that happens so fast that if you’re not paying close attention you’ll miss it. And if you don’t know what the Hueco tanks are then it can be difficult to visualize. The tanks are giant rocks that have fractured in patterns that make it easy to capture rainfall in the desert. Indigenous people would often seek refuge there to find water and shade. The Hueco tanks are now popular with rock climbers around El Paso, and you can still visit and see the handprints and dancing figures left by the Mescalero Apache and Tigua or the pictures of masks from the Jornada Mogollon from centuries ago.

Fall 2014