The editor of 30-40 Years West of Here: Stories from the Sub-Rural West invites contributions for a collection of creative nonfiction essays that explores the implications of living in that often overlooked space/time specific to the West of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Partly the result of demographic patterns tied to economic booms and busts, these oddly anachronistic and often isolated neighborhoods sprung up in areas somewhat removed from the nearest towns and adjacent to and/or surrounded by woods, farms, foothills, rivers, and streams. Not part of the Old West or the New, this time/space presented those who lived, worked and played in those eras/areas of the sub-rural West with historically unique and significant experiences.
To be sure, vestiges of this particular “West” remain visible—though somewhat hidden in many cases—in cities such as Salt Lake, Boise, Boulder, Spokane, Yakima, Denver, Reno, Rapid City, and Bozeman (and, some would suggest, the formerly sub-rural suburbs of Midwestern cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul). Where new, carefully planned suburbs packed with earth-tone houses and manicured lawns have filled in the open areas that once separated the relatively small, scattered neighborhoods and isolated, single streets, one can still find split-level houses, half-acre yards, solitary horses, and the inevitable detritus that accrues over time in big yards near small garages.
Eliding categories such as “Old West” and “New West,” these “neighborhood” are seldom studied critically or recaptured creatively, which is where you come in. This proposed collection calls for essays from various critical and creative vantage points that return readers to this time/space and thus shed light on its lasting significance.
Essays may consider and explore, but need not be limited to, these topics:
• The mix of old and new, urban and rural/wild
• Sports and the outdoors
• Childhood/education (broadly understood)
• The ideological and/or political repercussions of living there and then
• Stories comparing today’s suburbs with yesterday’s sub-rural subdivisions
• The romantic, mythic Old West and its role in this time/space
• The material culture specific to this West
• This time/space and how it nurtured risk-taking and cultivated adventure seeking
• Architecture and landscaping of this era/area
• Community then, community now
• How these 60s, 70’s, and early 80s houses and neighborhoods seem to co-exist with their contemporary surroundings
• The implications of the subsequent “development”—of the transformation to the New West—on this other, over-looked West
• How living in neighborhoods connected to cities by highways and half-formed zoning plans shaped those who, in the words of Wallace Stegner in Wolf Willow, were imprinted by this place/experience
If you are interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract to Colin Irvine at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15, 2010. (For the sake of full disclosure, it needs to be acknowledged here that a publisher has not yet been secured for this proposed collection; however, the editor—who has previously edited a collection of essays published by Greenwood Press—will pursue one should sufficient interest be represented in the form of the abstracts.) In the subject line, please write “Old West New West.”
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