In 1950, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, author of the acclaimed novel The Ox-Bow Incident - a writer who critic John R. Milton has said "did perhaps more than anyone else to define (in his fiction) the mode of perception, the acquisition of knowledge, and the style which we tend to call Western" - published a collection of short stories that had already won distinction in various national magazines. The collection - Clark's only published volume of short fiction - was well received by reviewers, and subsequent critics have noted that these stories reflect both Clark's literary power and the major concerns of his novels: the interior and intuitive complexities of good and evil, and the fragile, intricate web that connects humankind to the rest of the natural world. This new paperback edition - which includes "Hook," Clark's most renowned story - makes these remarkable pieces available again to a new generation of readers. A foreword by Ann Ronald, one of the West's most astute literary critics, sets the stories into the context of Clark's oeuvre and career and illuminates the way they reveal crucial characteristics of this complicated writer's imagination, Clark remains one of the West's most significant writers, one of the first to explore the complicated inter-actions between humankind and the West's vast and often haunted landscape. The stories in The Watchful Gods will offer contemporary readers fresh insight into Clark's unique genius.