HAVING EVERYTHING RIGHT: Essays of Place by Kim R. Stafford


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The nature musings of a creative-writing professor in Oregon. The salad is mixed indeed: prose-poems, litcrit, pop lyrics, commonplace book excerpts--all included in this small volume. Writing teachers, Stafford included, often see so many possibilities in prose that a single, simple choice is impossible. By his title, the author means an ordering of the universe through words, a linguistic Eden. Unfortunately, he states what he ""wants"" much too often. Yet the reader cannot help but feel friendly towards Stafford, who describes himself as an enraptured folklorist, scampering about Oregon, overjoyed by natural lore, seized by romantic moods. Merely reading a book by anthropologist Franz Boas elevates his prose to the ecstatic level of that modern Hymn of the Nations, the old jingle: ""I'd like to teach the world to sing. . ."" Stafford is best at narrating experiences that really happened to him, but a good part of this book is a dotty assortment of thoughts on literature. Stafford's taste is fine as far as early writers go--Dante, Chaucer, and Milton are praised--but less sure as time goes by. Stafford categorizes the classics of the three as part of ""cosmic travel literature,"" and their modern descendants as Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The latter two would probably be startled at the news that they had inherited these weighty literary mantles. In sum: amiable eclectisim.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Confluence Press--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)