For more than twenty years Max Evans has been trying to assemble a book of stories by working cowboys--men who were ranch hands with at least five years of paid experience and women who had either been raised on ranches or joined their husbands on a double hire-out for five years or more. With the expert help of Candy Moulton he has succeeded in collecting eighteen stories set in the Working West after 1920 that meet his inflexible requirements: experience plus imagination plus innate writing ability.
As Evans notes in his introduction, subdivisions, condos, and ranchettes are shrinking the Working West every day: "Some of those who once lived it, and those few who are so agonizingly still working it with bloodied souls, must put it down on paper. . . . If we fail to act with immediacy the truth will continue to dissipate. . . with frightening rapidity."
The stories in this anthology range as wide as the Rockies, from a murder mystery to the tale of a unique horse trainer, to a family's desperate battle against a grass and forest fire to the story of a world famous violinist. But they share a common denominator: biscuits. Almost every story includes hot biscuits as a feature of daily life in the Working West. Biscuits, it turns out, are more important in western life than guns and maybe more than coffee. In the West, people who could make superior biscuits received more respect than the mayor and the police chief combined.
The authors of the stories in Hot Biscuits are Taylor Fogerty, J. P. S. Brown, Willard Holopeter, Elaine Long, Sinclair Browning, Slim Randles, Lori Van Pelt, Grem Lee, Dick Hyson, Sally C. Bates, Virginia Bennett, Curt Brummett, Jimbo Brewer, Paula Paul, Helen C. Avery, Gwen Peterson, and the editors.
"These stories of the West are so good and so true that you can almost smell the dust blowing off the high desert and feel the wind on your face. The characters are real Westerners, the kind who know how to bend with the harsh rhythms of the land and the weather and do so with hard-earned grace. You'll laugh and cry with them, and you won't forget them."--Margaret Coel, author of The Shadow Dancer
"In 1902, an Eastern dude and friend of Theodore Roosevelt's named Owen Wister overhauled Western fiction with his novel The Virginian. The book loosened the strangle-hold the dime novelists had on the Western story and let in the breath of literature. Hot Biscuits, a serious book with a funny (but significant) title, is every bit as revolutionary and literary as Wister's. It is the first fresh approach to the Western in memory."--Dale Walker, former director of the Texas Western University Press and author of numerous books on the West, including the recent Pacific Destiny.
"This marvelous collection of stories from the modern ranching West all share a hard edge that is both as starkly realistic and irresistibly engaging as the land itself. These stories perfectly capture a vanishing breed of modern ranch men and women making a last stand in the changing West."--Paul Andrew Hutton, Executive Director, Western History Association, and author and documentary film producer.
"The joy of Hot Biscuits is finding gems like artist Grem Lee's 'The Stormy Blue Jitney' amid the pros' prose--Max Evans' pure-gold tale of two cowpokes wrangling 'bargain' horses or Elaine Long's vein of irony in 'The Violinist's Story.' Lee's perfectly faceted story of ranchers taking hard hits with grit, wit, and no quit deserves the prize for an artist's mastery of a new medium."--Richard Benke, Associated Press arts writer, and former book editor of the Pasadena Star-News.