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West Bound:
Stories of Providence

These interlocking stories begin with foundation tales of the migration of JJ, and his wife Naomi, and their son Otis from their chaotic family beginnings in Tulsa, Oklahoma to their settlement in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 1920s. Stories in the second section treat Otis’ coming of age amid the shifting fortunes of his family and friends. The third section considers events ranging from family folklore to disturbing and tragic events in other peoples’ lives in the same place and time.

The work is unified by a common image of fate settling where it will, with people being tossed about in a world that appears to have lost control. From the Tulsa race riots of 1921 to Buck’s last coon hunt, we are never left in a comfortable place, though we may see after the fact a rough justice at work. Gish recalls a world where although the workings of Providence are hard to fathom and their outcome is often hard to bear, they are what we must accept because our very lives are built on them.