AITING FOR THE END by Leslie A. Fiedler


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Heigh-ho Fiedler! He rides again, but lately too many have been using his hobby-horse- the revolutionary socio-sexuality at the heart of our life and literature, so that when the Montana Mad Man takes to the mount here the gallop slows down in well-worn grooves. As a critic Fiedler has been one of the indispensables: in the flat '50's he broke up the land with a salvaging style and startling sagacity- Love and Death in the American Novel being a case in point. But with Waiting for the End, alas, he seems to have reached it- or for now, anyway. The trouble is the sting is gone- and sometimes real gone: a little dull, a little slapdash, like writing slow sentences in a hurry. It's a Sears Roebuck book, a catalogue of the literary what's-what: the in, the out, the to-come. So many names (Hemingway and Faulkner to West to Roth to Gover; Frost and Pound to Shapiro or Ginsburg or Stone), so many issues (the '20's, '30's, the academics, anti-academics, the Beat, the Whitman revival) -- with all that around it is difficult to develop anything definitively. It has, as Fiedler says somewhere, it's ""local triumphs,"" such as the passage about Papa giving up his real role of the ""despised Steer"" to take on his fake one of lauded Bull. Moreover, the basic theme: the outsiders (Jews, Negroes, homosexuals) turning into Representative Men graced with mystic allures (anti-herodom, jazz, pot, the holy marriage of males) and thus transforming the culture, especially that of the young, is certainly important. In those parts tackling, e.g. philo-semitism, Baldwin, Burroughs or Reich, it tingles with the old Fiedler touch. Still, very little said that couldn't appear in Esquire.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1964
Publisher: Stein & Day