WONDERS HIDDEN: Audubon's Early Years by Scott R. Sanders

WONDERS HIDDEN: Audubon's Early Years

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An odd-couple inaugural entry in Capra's ""Back-to-Back"" series--each to contain two short works by different authors bound in a single volume. Le Guin's contribution is an excerpt from a forthcoming novel (Harper & Row, Fall '85), set in a future western American civilization that has incorporated aspects of past technology into an ethos at once totemic, guild-like, and visionary. This episode is related by Flicker, a woman born with the ""third eye,"" a fitful perception of past, future, or parallel realities coexisting with this one--but not apparent to most understandings. Though Flicker turns away in childhood from this troubling gift, it returns when she is 15 in the form of a cosmic vision--one that Flicker will spend the rest of her life assimilating, first by conscious reenactment and study, later in the course of quiet everyday maturity. But, written in the grave, chiseled cadences that carry even some of Le Guin's best work to the brink of self-parody, this tantalizing vignette is too truncated to suggest what the complete novel may add up to. And the Sanders piece, a fictional account of John James Audubon's childhood and adolescence in Haiti and France, is an even less satisfying excerpt from an unpublished novel: an innocuous sketch that takes the illegitimate child from his Haitian foster mother to his father's household in Nantes (circa 1790) to age 18, when Jean--dreamer, dull student, hopeless failure as naval cadet--is packed off to America to escape conscription into Napoleon's army. All in all, a somewhat unconvincing debut for an iffy yet promising project--with Raymond Carver, Edward Hoagland, and Gina Gerriault among the writers scheduled for future pairings.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Capra