THE RANDOM REVIEW by Gary & Jonathan Galassi--Eds. Fisketjon


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Casting beyond the little mags (unlike the Pushcart Annual), Fisketjon & Galassi's new reprise of the year's best work is welcome as another forum for serious writing even if, as yet, it lacks a personality of its own. In the prose, there's an excess of mannerism--most especially in Emile Capouya's self-consciously gliding memoir/essay on the gappiness of memory; but also in formally neat but not quite authentic-seeming stories by Stephanie C. Gunn, Amy Herrick, Tobias Wolff, and Patricia Zelver. Much more straightforward and effective are Ann Beattie's sad ""Hijack-lighting"" (in which her miscellaneous style, shaped as a memorial, works strongly), Peter Taylor's ""The Gift of the Prodigal,"" and Jean Thompson's ""Remembering Sonny."" In the poetry, an odd phenomenon: an abundance of excellent quarteror half-poems, but not once a wholly good one. This may be due to the editors' predilection for longer poems; in any case, while work by Frank Beidart, Linda Gregg, Denis Johnson, Thomas Lux, Mark Rudman, and C. K. Williams is unlikely to quicken a reader's blood, parts of poems by Jim Gauer, Bill Knott, Mark Rudman, and Charles Wright may. But this new review would win praise for its inclusion, alone, of two spectacular things. One is Raymond Carver's story, ""Cathedral""--a husband playing host to an old friend of his wife's, a blind man: an unnerving, sharply upthrust piece of fiction, perhaps Carver's best. The other is poet Robert Hass' exhilarating essay on prosody, ""Listening and Making,"" in which the rhythms of contemporary poetry are urged into the light: it is one of the rare important treatises by a contemporary poet--intelligent, nervy, California-catholic, an aerating document. Worthy indeed, then, for these two pieces of high quality; otherwise, however, no better or worse than an average installment of New Directions--and without ND's unique, first-time-in-print appeal.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Random House