Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Narrow Valley" by R. A. Lafferty

Another selection from Thomsen's The American Fantasy Tradition.  Here we have a silly folklorish fable full of one-liners.  An American Indian casts a spell on his homestead that discourages tax collectors and other interlopers from coming to bother him.  I don't really find this sort of thing amusing, though some do.  If I gave out stars, this would be right in the middle, 3 of 5, inoffensively average.

I've only read one other Lafferty story (that I can remember), "The World as Will and Wallpaper."  That story was much more challenging and interesting.   


  1. It's funny how different people react to R. A. Lafferty's writing. "Narrow Valley" is my favorite short story, bar none. I view it as the Great American Short Story (a title bestowed by a college professor in an English class I once took upon Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"). It has everything: Indians, homesteaders, a sheriff, eminent scientists (complete with scientific babble), and precocious children. It seems to capture the western expansion of America in a very funny and oddly shaped nutshell, except with a happy ending for the Indian this time.
    Thank you,

  2. It is possible that I will come back to this story in a few years, after I have read more Lafferty and am more in tune with his "wavelength," and have a more positive reaction. I didn't "get" the first Gene Wolfe or Jack Vance that I read, only later coming to think of those authors as among my very favorites.

  3. As a Native American, I found the story very funny. If anything, it does get a bit of the inward style of "Indian Humor" most others find hard to grasp. It's one of my favorite short stories I go back to time and again as a pick-me-up.

  4. According to what I have read online about him, Lafferty not only was fascinated by Native American culture, but has been embraced by Native American readers.