A RADICAL'S AMERICA by Harvey Swados


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As one of America's ""younger"" novelists and more committed essayists, Brooklyn-born Harvey Swados ranks with the second placers, e.g. Herbert Gold, R.V. Cassill, Vance Bourgaily. Indeed, if one were to judge by style alone, this current Swados book, might tumble him even further. But this collection of magazine articles written over the last decade from a variety of concerns and in a variety of moods is not meant to get by on the fitness of its rhetorical form; rather here it's the red-blooded content and courage of attack that counts. And when critic-of-the-social-scene Swados is at his fighting best, then his pages pack a wallop bound to shake up not only the toughest reader but even the blase boys in the literary back rooms. Mark off observations re the unemployed miner, the end of goodtime longshoremanship in the West Coast arena, the cultural degradation and devitalization of the worker, assembly-line boredom, the commodity craze-maze and ""Utopia Unlimited in the Fat Fifties"" as among the best things yet said concerning our streamlined middle-class age, its myths, mores and spiritual mayhem. On the other hand, take with a yawn and a shrug his jumbled-up crotchets and/or commonplaces about the Italian cinema, Exurbia, Jewish writers, pop tastes et al.; his evaluation of ""personality"" kingpins, Salinger and Mailer, has the bad taste of sour grapes. However, ""Image in the Mirror"", a long look at the plight of the modern day writer, is as perceptive and pertinent today as when it first appeared in New World Writing five years ago. In the end, whatever the faults, A Radical's America must be regarded as a work of notable interest filled with hard-won integrity and insight.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1962
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.