NEW DIRECTIONS 42 by J. with Peter Glassgold & Frederick R. Martin--Eds. Laughlin


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There is work of quality, even excellence, in this edition of New Directions' veteran literary-magazine-in-book-format--and in a larger percentage than usual. Six poems by the Hungarian poet Janos Pilinszky (translated by Emery George) are so hauntingly precise yet so unfussed--over (""It arrives, grows rigid/sits on the cinder-mute wall:/a single, enormous blow--/ the moon."") that a reader hungers for more, at least a book-full. Sylvia Townsend Warner, not primarily known for her poetry, is represented by twelve poems, each a pure song of widowhood and shadowing death worthy of a Schubert setting--and nearly that moving. Russell Haley's story ""Occam's Electric Razor""--a man at loose ends turning his universe upside down as he takes apart his dead father's ancient electric razor--is as delightful as it is shrewd. A 1919 story by Japanese writer Uchida Hyukku, ""Kudan,"" reads like oriental Kafka; Carol Emshwiller's ""Slowly Bumbling In the Void"" turns the conventions of failing-marriage fiction into a sort of graph; Yves Bonbefoy's abstract word-landscape of literature itself is good in a smoky French way. Betsy Adams and Julia Older both are introduced with strong, strange poetry. The rest is chancier, and usually mediocre: Paul West at his most rococo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti tediously hectoring, Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson collaborating--and, together as apart, colorless. Plus: broken-line clichÉs by Andrea Moorehead, Michael Mott, Ganga Prasad Vimal; chapped prose by Harriet Zinnes and over-effortful prose by James McManus. The first-mentioned fine stuff, though, will more than hold you over; thanks to it, this is a good collection.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1981
Publisher: New Directions