SITES: A Third Memoir by Wallace Fowlie

SITES: A Third Memoir

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Less-than-compelling recollections by a scholar, translator, and memoirist (Aubade, Journal of Rehearsals). A mixture of happenings remote and recent, none of the memories in this book can be called gripping. There is the sort of pedantic attention to detail admirable in a translator, but not so enjoyable for a reader. Along with the pedantry is a nicer brand of optimism that tends to judge people generously, including some kind words for rock 'n' rollers who deface Pete Lachaise Cemetery in Paris while visiting the grave of the Doors' Jim Morrison (he once wrote Fowlie a fan letter for his translation of Rimbaud). If much of this reads like rewritten diary entries, it may be simply that three memoirs are stretching it for a man who has led a basically sedentary, academic life. There is nothing here of affairs of the heart, for example, and the only sexual reference seems to be a nasty insinuation about an older gay man named ""Mr. Hem-y,"" whose resemblance to Proust's Baron Charlus, Fowlie calls ""slightly sinister."" What saves this from seeming a singularly sterile exercise is the author's fondness for some of the people he meets at the writers' colonies he seems to enjoy so much. His attempt to teach Katherine Anne Porter to play Ping-Pong fails, but he does re. cord a nice chat with Elizabeth Bishop. Apart from such collegial reminiscences, however, little of this book is strongly memorable. A rather dessicated, unrevealing look at an academic life.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1986
Publisher: Duke Univ. Press