REAL LOSSES, IMAGINARY GAINS by Wright Morris

REAL LOSSES, IMAGINARY GAINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A nicely varied collection from novelist Morris, who during the three decades in which these stories originated preached a little, cussed out America's moral holding patterns, and told some gentle, tender tales about childhood and old age. He's been brooding about the Wife/Mother goddess over the years, and here from 1948 (a miniature of his 1951 novel Man and Boy) is the first of that parade of galvanized baffle wagons which clank dreadfully toward their symbolic castrations and murders or become, once ""awakened,"" wildly ""loose and immoral."" Against Mother's terrible dominion Man and Boy seek refuge in a basement toilet. A Seventies version of the female principal finds Mother a beautiful teasing witch taunting Father with siren postures, tantrums and a zombie ""lover."" In the most moving pieces Morris explores the dreads and joys of youth: a bereaved youngster's terrible empathy with the swinging corpse of a butchered hog; young boys' roughhousing in an earthly paradise of brotherhood and peace; two others, one black, one white, fighting into an infinite twilight. There are loving recognitions on lilac-pressed, sway-backed verandas, in bright alleys, and again where ""the sky went up like a wall and the world seemed to end."" And there's a rare, delightful tribute to a good fat cat with a behind like that of a harem master. Like Saroyan, Wright Morris has not always been able to walk the thin line between indulgence and exploration, but here he does. A fine retrospective.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row