NEW DIRECTIONS 41 by J.; with Peter Glassgold & Frederick R. Martin--Eds. Laughlin


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New Directions' fealty to literary internationalism is commendable, but--as demonstrated once again in this semi-annual anthology--more in theory, often, than in practice. Highlight of the foreign writing here is Indian writer Vilas Sarang's ""History Is On Our Side"": sub-continental I. B. Singer. Then comes a substantial drop-off: merely clever poems by Gunnar Ekelof; a ""stereophonic radio play for one voice"" by German Rudiger Kremer; gnomic poems from Mexico by Gabriel Zaid (""Grace went searching for the first couple/Who dared to open their eyes/in the eden of being alive""); trickiness (though deft) from Chile's Nicanor Parra; one hundred short poems by a Thai poet, Montri Umavijani, on a theme of Hell and Purgatory with a Buddhist tinge--first of interest, then quickly banal; and, worst, poems by six Frenchmen ("". . . the liquidity of the i. . ."") that make for a truly remarkable display of mal de tête. From the States, the harvest is a little richer. Walter Abish's perversely fascinated, sociological, fill-in-the-dots story of suburbia, ""Alphabet of Revelations,"" is quite good; as is, more conventionally, Frederick Busch's American-in-London story, ""The Too Late American Boyhood Blues."" Poems by Allen Grossman and John Taggart succeed in a limited way, while those by Samuel Hazo, Mark Rudman, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti do not. And James Purdy--why?--is once more represented by a two-character homosexual melodrama ("" 'I never loved anybody like this before. We should have both died then, Clyde. . . We were so happy those days. . . Clyde (Holding him), everything else since that day has been downhill. . .'""). Goop--and otherwise, save for the Sarang, a very dispensable mix.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: New Directions