Sunday, April 1, 2007

Charles Olson in Gloucester: A Memoir

The following essay was commissioned by the editors of the Larcom Review for the magazine’s inaugural issue, in the spring of 1999. While I had previously written a great deal about Charles Olson, including a lengthy biographical-critical introduction to Maximus to Gloucester, the collection of his letters to the editor of the Gloucester Daily Times I edited and annotated for Ten Pound Island Books in 1992, I had never written about our friendship. In this essay I speak of Olson as I knew him in Gloucester and I try to evoke his presence as others experienced it as well. The photograph above of Olson (center), Vincent Ferrini (right) and me (left) was taken c.1964 by my friend and college classmate, Mark Power, in Ferrini’s frame shop and home at 126 E. Main Street, Gloucester. The essay also appeared in the Minutes of the Charles Olson Society and is posted on the Charles Olson Society website: and Literary Gloucester:

Charles Olson knew me before I knew him. He once told me that he used to see my mother wheeling me up and down the Boulevard in my baby carriage. Sometimes he’d stop and chat with her in front of the Boulevard Sweet Shop, my father’s luncheonette and soda fountain next to the Cut Bridge on Western Avenue, where Olson often bought his cigarettes and used the pay phone. It would be nice to say that I remember this gigantic figure towering over my carriage. But the fact is that I didn’t lay conscious eyes on Olson until twenty years later, in 1959, when I was 21 years old and on my way out of Gloucester to Europe.

Still, I remembered my parents’ stories about Olson. It was during his last two years at Harvard, between 1937 and 1939, that they knew him best, although Dad said he recalled Charles as a teenager. He said it was Olson’s great height that stayed with one, and the fact that when he was an undergraduate at Wesleyan—or maybe later at Harvard, where he’d been a graduate student in the American Civilization program—that Charles impressed everyone by coming into the store dressed in a huge raccoon coat.

Then there were the political discussions. My father idolized F.D.R., and Olson, who would soon be on his way to Washington to work at the Office for War Information and subsequently for the Democratic Party, appeared happy to talk politics with Dad. “Oh, he could argue,” Dad said. “Sometimes he’d give it to anyone at the counter who didn’t agree with him.”

Not to speak of the phone calls. Dad said that Charles kept him in the store long after closing hours. He’d be folded up in the telephone booth, nearly seven feet of him, hunched over the receiver, deep in conversation with what Dad referred to as “one of his girl friends.” And then he would squeeze out of the phone booth, leave the receiver dangling, and importune my father for more nickels. Sometimes it was midnight by the time he let my father close and come home to my mother, just as it would later be three, four, five in the morning when I would finally beg off, pleading babies’ early awakening and drag myself home to my wife, who would be angry mostly because she missed all that marvelous talk with the man who adored her Harvard beets. (Charles once importuned Jeane to prepare a dish for him at two in the morning, having knocked on our bedroom window to awaken us).

During the intervening twenty years between my childhood and our first real meeting, I encountered Charles only in print. I read the earliest versions of the first Maximus Poems in Vincent Ferrini’s Four Winds, beginning in 1951, when I was in high school. But the poems in that groundbreaking little magazine that most affected me were by Ferrini himself, Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov. I don’t think I was ready for Olson’s obliquities or for his unrelenting localism, even though I had walked the terrain of those poems daily.

I wasn’t ready for Olson as an undergraduate either. When I first discovered his verse and the seminal “Human Universe” essay in Evergreen Review, I had barely served my apprenticeship with Pound and Williams and I was still under the influence of the New Critical verse of the 1950s—dense, hermetic, traditional. In fact, it was a photograph of Olson, on the back cover of the magazine that first attracted my attention. It showed a balding forty- year-old man with a thick mustache, naked to the waist writing at a table by an open window. On the rough wooden table were an overflowing ashtray, a ceramic cup, and a nearly obscured bottle of Parker’s Scrip ink. In the foreground was a straw-covered wine flask with its cork crookedly replaced. Although I was later to learn that the photograph had been taken by Jonathan Williams at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where Olson taught between 1949 and 1956, I at first assumed it showed Olson at work in Gloucester because it seemed to reflect the Bohemian atmosphere of the artists’ studios I was familiar with on Rocky Neck, where my father had opened a new luncheonette and S.S. Pierce grocery store in 1951. A biographical note announced that Olson had returned to his “hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts,” which jibed with Vincent Ferrini’s remark the previous summer that “Charles was back in town” and that I should go see him.

When I opened the Spring 1959 Evergreen Review to find “The Company of Men,” dedicated to the San Francisco poet Philip Whalen, I was both puzzled and intrigued. It was decidedly a Gloucester poem:

Or my dragger
who goes home with

arete: when his wife
complains he smells like

his Aunt who works
for the De-Hy

he whips out
his pay

and says, how does this

It spoke of the Gloucester I knew from having worked on fish during the very summer the poem had been composed. Yet Olson’s moving in and out of history, his comparison in the first section of the poem between “the company of men/one in front of my eyes, bringing in red fish, the other/the far-flung East India Company of poets who I do not/even know” was difficult for me to follow. I could handle such juxtapositions in Pound. They would generally involve classical allusions, or I’d recognize some lines or a simile from Dante’s Commedia that would make sense. Nevertheless, Olson was using the details of daily life in Gloucester in a way I’d never seen them used before. What was familiar to me, or what ought to have been familiar—the “De-Hy,” which is what everyone in town called the plant that turned fish waste, or gurry, into by-products like fertilizer or mink food—seemed suddenly unfamiliar because it appeared not in the Gloucester Times’ daily record of fish landings, or in conversations one had along Main Street or the waterfront, but in a poem. In fact, I almost resented Olson’s use of local slang in a poem. I wondered if he wasn’t trying to show off, to let his readers know he was an insider when I knew, or thought I knew, that he really wasn’t. (Olson was born in Worcester, Mass., first summering in Gloucester with his family until he and his mother moved here permanently in the mid-1930s.)

What began to dawn on me, however, was that Olson knew Gloucester quite well. He knew the city better than I did. Or at least he used what he knew about Gloucester better than I had begun to do in my tentative first stories about the place, stories I had hoped to collect for an English honors project in college but had ultimately abandoned because I didn’t know how to tell them.

Even though I was pointed toward Italy during the summer after I graduated from Bowdoin, I was intensely aware of Olson’s presence in Gloucester. Our mutual friends, the Paris-born, Yugoslavian painter Albert Alcalay and his wife Vera, talked much of Olson when I visited them in the house and studio on Rocky Neck Avenue they spent summers in with their two sons Leor and Ammiel. Albert encouraged me to read Olson’s first book Call Me Ishmael, which had recently been re-printed by Barney Rosset as a Grove Press paperback.

“If you want to understand America you must read that book!” Albert insisted.

Setting aside books on Leopardi and Florentine history, I drove to Cambridge and bought Call Me Ishmael at the Grolier Book Shop on Plympton Street—this was in late August of 1959—and I read it during those morning hours that were mine before reporting to work for the night shift at Gorton’s Seafood Center.

First published in 1947, Call Me Ishmael returned me to the intellectual preoccupations of my final year in college just as I was prepared to abandon them for new ones in Europe. The book is about the sources of Melville’s Moby-Dick in myth, in Greek tragedy, in Melville’s deep immersion in Shakespeare, and in the American landscape and consciousness itself. It is not only the best introduction to Melville that I know, it is also a map of the territory Olson would later explore in The Maximus Poems, in which the history of Gloucester would be a microcosm of America’s, and America’s, of the world. Only months before I had been reading about Greek and Mesoamerican myth and ritual as I tried to grapple with D. H. Lawrence’s encounter with Mexico and the American Southwest for my senior thesis on The Plumbed Serpent. I had been trying to understand the relationship between the new land and the savagery with which Europeans took possession of it, decimating and displacing its original inhabitants. I’d been trying, equally, to get at the American unconscious in which, I believed, that violence still resided.

Suddenly, reading Call Me Ishmael, it all came together for me as Olson equated the space of the vast new country with the sense of violence that space had bred. “I take SPACE to be the central fact to man born in America, from Folsom cave to now,” Olson wrote. “I spell it large because it comes large here. Large and without mercy…PLUS a harshness we still perpetuate, a sun like a tomahawk, small earthquakes but big tornadoes and hurrikans, a river north and south in the middle of the land running out the blood.”

I could hardly contain myself as I read Olson’s idiosyncratic prose, a prose that gripped me the way Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature had. One morning, when I shared with Albert my excitement over Olson’s book, he said, “Well, he’s coming tonight and I don’t want you to get too frightened when you see him because he’s big.”

That night—it must have been a Saturday or Sunday because I wasn’t working—I went early to Albert and Vera’s so I wouldn’t miss Olson’s arrival. It was a late one, as I would learn; for Olson moved according to his own inner dictates. But I will never forget my first sight of Olson and his wife Betty. Olson was simply enormous; he towered over small Europeans like Albert and me. Betty was beautiful. She was tall and slender and she wore a long, dark-patterned skirt. Her lustrous black hair was piled on top of her head and she had a Botticellian profile. Olson came in creased chinos and a blue Oxford cloth shirt peppered with cigarette burns. Around his shoulders he’d draped a gray Shetland sweater. On his feet were paint-stained work shoes.

It was a cool night in late August with a breeze off the water, so we sat inside Albert’s ample studio with its view out over Smith Cove. Albert’s marvelous abstract paintings hung on the walls and his book case held copies of art magazines and Botteghe Oscure, the great international literary review that was published in Rome by Marguerite Caetani. The scene was everything an aspiring writer like me would dream of. Vera’s hospitality was extraordinary, and Charles and Betty made a handsome and gracious couple. They arrived as though attending what I imagined to be the fabulous art parties of Greenwich Village or the Hamptons. And Charles sat down, looked me full in the face, as he would do all during the years of our later friendship, and spoke to me of what he knew about me (a great deal, it turned out) and my family.

The major topic of conversation for the evening was not America or Gloucester; it was Europe, Italy in particular. Part of that was in my honor, for Albert had already told Charles of my plans to leave for the University of Florence, where I would be studying Dante and Romance Philology. So we spoke of Dante, about whose poetry Olson was immensely knowledgeable. But Olson also wanted to talk about his friend Corrado Cagli, the Roman painter he’d met in Washington. Through his experience of accompanying Allied army units as they opened up Buchenwald, Cagli had brought home the reality of the holocaust to Olson. At the end of the evening Olson took out a tiny notepad. With the stub of a pencil he wrote a letter of introduction for me to Cagli in Rome. It said in part, “Peter Anastas is the son of the man from whose store I made all my telephone calls.”

The one subject I had wanted to discuss with Olson that night, my excitement over Call Me Ishmael, never came up. In the aura of Charles and Betty’s magnetic presence, in the sweep of the conversation from Troubadour poetry to the paintings of Josef Albers, who had preceded Olson as rector of Black Mountain, I never had the chance to tell Charles about reading him.

That evening Olson invited me to visit him and Betty and I promised to do so. But I hesitated, and then it was time to leave for Europe. On the eve of my departure for Naples from Boston on the TSS Olympia, I slipped Call Me Ishmael into my suitcase. It was one of two books I was taking with me. The other was Sartre’s Nausea. Little did I realize that those books would come to symbolize the two poles of an intellectual inheritance I would struggle with for the rest of my life.

I linger over my account of that first meeting with Charles because I myself came to invest it with a mythic dimension. The impact of Olson upon me that evening was such that I could have renounced my trip to Italy to remain at home in Gloucester learning from him the things that I had never been taught in college, the things that mattered to me more than anything else and that it seemed I was traveling vainly half way around the world to pursue. But I think Charles understood the dynamic. It had happened for him with many a younger person, a student or fledgling writer, who might have traveled to Black Mountain or Gloucester, attracted by Olson’s charisma, even though he or she had never set eyes, as I had fortunately, on the man himself.

I like to think that Olson wanted me to go to Europe. Certainly he was encouraging that first night, as Vera and Albert, who had taught me my first Italian, had always been. Olson must have known more than I did that I would need to discover my roots in the Mediterranean before I could understand myself as an American, indeed, before I could realize what having been born in Gloucester meant.

A year passed in Florence, a year in which I had thrown myself into the study of Medieval literature and begun to teach English at a private high school. I spoke Italian daily, I wrote articles in Italian for local journals; I even dreamed in my new language. But one morning I woke up with Melville on my mind, for I had been reading a biography of Cesare Pavese, the great contemporary Italian novelist who had translated Moby-Dick into Italian. Rushing over to the American Library in Via Tornabuoni, I checked Moby-Dick out. For three days I did nothing but read Melville; and then I sat down and wrote an essay about my nostalgia for the ocean and for Gloucester, which I immediately sent to Paul Kenyon, editor of the Gloucester Times. It was then that I remembered Call Me Ishmael. I dug the book out of my trunk and re-read it with new insight. Even though I would remain in Florence for nearly two more years, my journey homeward had begun.

As soon as I returned to Gloucester in the late spring of 1962 I sought Olson out, or rather, through Vincent Ferrini, he invited me to read at Gallery Seven in Magnolia from a novel I was just then completing. Brother Antoninus, the featured poet, was unable to come, and Olson had been asked to organize an alternate program. Jonathan Bayliss, a writer then employed as a business analyst at Gorton’s, read from his novel Prologos, which has only now been published. And John Keyes, a poet from New York City, later to be featured in Ed Sanders’ Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts, read from his Olson-inspired long poem about Washington, D.C.

Of course, I read poorly; and the minute I began to read from my embarrassingly self-conscious first novel about a Greek-American writer who returns to his father’s home town in the Peloponnese, I knew the narrative wasn’t working. But people were kind, and after the reading was over and I had re-met Charles at the reception, he took me aside. Again those searching eyes overwhelmed mine as he placed his large hand on my shoulder.

“The literal,” he said, complimenting me on a door I had described in a Greek peasant’s house, a door of peeling paint and rusty nails. “Not the literary.” Like much that Olson was later to teach me, it took me years to comprehend fully what he was getting at. But that advice has proved to be some of the most valuable I ever received, along with another remark of Olson’s made in response to a complaint to him that I wasn’t getting enough time to write.

“Just live,” he said one hot summer afternoon as we sat across the street from the post office on Dale Avenue. “The writing will take care of itself.”

Between the spring of 1962 and his death of cancer of the liver on January 10, 1970, I spent a great deal of time with Olson. Those were the years in which he completed the major phase of The Maximus Poems, the years in which he sent a series of stunning letters to the Editor of the Gloucester Times about how he felt Urban Renewal was destroying the city’s historical and architectural heritage; years in which we both agonized over our country’s involvement in Vietnam. They were also the years when his reputation as a poet, thinker, teacher and explicator of his own works became international. He traveled to Italy, reading on the same platform with his old mentor Ezra Pound. He lived in London; he taught at Buffalo, where Betty was killed in an automobile accident. And finally, he returned to Gloucester, to complete the poems, describing in the last book of Maximus his loneliness in the apartment at 28 Fort Square after Betty died, his plunge into what he called the “subterranean lake” of himself to try to fathom his own depths, just as he had attempted to sound Melville’s in Call Me Ishmael.

But mostly I remember the talk of those years. I recall the nights in his house when Vincent Ferrini, Jonathan Bayliss and I would appear just after Charles and Betty had finished eating supper (it was breakfast for Charles who worked all night, sleeping each day until late afternoon) and stay until one, two, three in the morning talking “in the Russian manner,” as Olson characterized it, sitting over a bottle of whiskey until it and the topic had absolutely been exhausted. Or the nights when I was finally able to maintain my own friendship with Olson and I would go alone and talk sometimes with Charles until dawn, rushing home to record it all in my journal:

“January 23, 1966, 5 a.m. I come home exhausted after 10 hours with Charles. Impossible to keep up with him—he’s a human dynamo. My head is full of the sound of his voice; my hands smell of him; my clothes are permeated with the smoke of his cigarettes, and my body aches, not to mention my brain, after that assault… Who would have anything to do with any university after such a day? Years from now when he’s dead and I am past the wasting of my first twenty-five years, I’ll recall these evenings and regret that I had so little to give Charles, that I was so exhausted, so literally speechless in the face of his mind…
“And of Betty, who lies now under the earth in West Gloucester, Charles says so lovingly, ‘I still don’t believe that Bet is dead. She’s just lost out there somewhere. I expect her to come knocking on the door any day…’”

I helped carry Charles to his grave, just as I had done with Betty after she died and her body was brought home to Gloucester to be buried at Beechbrook Cemetery. As I stand by the slate headstone that marks their graves today, I often recall that evening at Albert and Vera’s when I first met them both. I recall how they seemed my ideal of a couple, and Charles, the very picture of the kind of writer that I wished to become myself. Whoever would have thought on that late summer night nearly fifty years ago that I would have buried them both and that, along with Charles and Betty, would go my own youth, and much of my idealism, in those terrible years of the war in Vietnam and its aftermath?

(Appended below is a review of Maximus to Gloucester, by Karl Young, which was published in the August-September 1993 issue of American Book Review.)

Maximus to Gloucester: The Letters and Poems of Charles Olson to the Editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1962 - 1969

Edited and with an introduction by Peter Anastas
Foreword by Gerrit Lansing
Ten Pound Island Books, 1992

Review by Karl Young

The parameters of the genre of publishing that deals with literary epistles may seem to be firmly fixed. Academicians usually edit these books, often as a means of enhancing their bibliographies or as an adjunct to other projects. The books usually contain letters written to other literati, though some may venture into amorous or family correspondence if the writer's life was sufficiently flamboyant or if such letters tend to support the editor's particular brand of psychobabble. University presses and presses with strong textbook markets publish most of them, as often as not to enhance the prestige of their catalogues or augment textbook sales. Scholars, poets, and novelists make up the target audience -- though, again, some figures attain a larger audience due to prurient interests. The books are meant to be read in detached tranquility and ruminated upon by appreciators or used judiciously by scholars writing for the usual audience. This machinery publishes some excellent books (such as, recently, the correspondences of James Laughlin with William Carlos Williams and Kenneth Rexroth) -- but the infrastructure itself seems unamenable to alternatives in publishing. What happens when you break these boundaries? Are there things that can be done outside this framework that can't be done within it? Maximus to Gloucester, a collection of letters by Charles Olson to The Gloucester Times, breaks all the standard parameters. In fact, if you set out to produce a book counter to the standard, you probably couldn't go farther than this, even if you invented the author, the publisher, the circumstances of publication.

Peter Anastas, a writer without university affiliations, edited this book with full, precise, and copious critical apparatus. George Butterick had suggested the project two decades ago, but Anastas ran into a number of stumbling blocks. He overcame these in time to use the book according to local need. All sorts of interests have tried to buy and denature Gloucester since its founding. Puritans tried to recast it in their own image and failed. More recently the Moonies, another group of theocrats, acquired holdings in the city but were prevented from going further. The last onslaught came from people who wanted to build a mall in the center of the working waterfront, which could destroy the economically beleaguered fisheries. Anastas and Ten Pound Island Press published the book in part as ammunition in the fight against the mall and other such incursions. They hoped it would give the people of Gloucester a better sense of who they were, where they came from, what kind of people had lived among them, and what they could do if they held to their heritage and their uniqueness. Anastas believes that related activities helped to set up zoning that prevents gentrification and the building of condominiums on the waterfront. At the time of writing this essay, the battle over the mall is still in the courts, but Anastas feels confident that the anti-mall faction will prevail.

This publication history seems in tune with the letters themselves. They were addressed not to individuals, but to the people of a city, and the medium of address was not the secret mail but a local newspaper. Olson was trying to preserve something in Gloucester as a living entity, and engaged in other activities to back up the letters. He tried to prevent the destruction of buildings, not to make them into museums or quaint showpieces, but to keep them functioning as habitats and workplaces, supporting a way of life that he hoped could save America from itself. Many historic buildings had been partitioned for use as low-income housing. As is usual in such situations, the occupants would join the ranks of the homeless without these dwellings. Saving wetlands is another important subject of the letters, letters which were considerably ahead of their time in environmental awareness. Some deal in what may now seem trivia, such as the issue of a Winslow Homer postage stamp commemorating Gloucester (Olson preferred using a painting by Fitz Hugh Lane -- a real Gloucester painter, not a tourist). In one of the most personally revealing of the letters, Olson, perhaps deep in his cups, claimed honors he had not won. He withdrew this letter before publication. It's impossible to know Olson's motives, but it seems likely that he was not afraid that anyone would prove his claims false, but that his basic honesty prevented him from allowing the letter to be published once sobriety had overtaken him.

One of the unusual circumstances behind this collection is that the editor of the Times, Paul Kenyon, was sensitive and sympathetic to what Olson was doing. The letters were usually printed in generous format with photos and sidebars. Kenyon did not tamper with Olson's style, sometimes reproducing Olson's typewriter script. This may make the Times uniquely perceptive among American newspapers. How many editors in North America are willing to run letters in any kind of verse, particularly what would be for them a highly eccentric type of poetry (consider, for instance, Olson's habit of leaving sentences unfinished), and to publish them in such generous format?

Anastas had an extended local readership in mind when publishing the book. The book's second purpose is to reintroduce Olson to Gloucester, this time as poet. Although Olson knew many people in Gloucester and had more friends there than most people do anywhere, his poetry was generally not read by Gloucesterites, except for the pieces in the Times. Traditional Gloucester, the Gloucester that was important to Olson, is basically a town of fishermen, sailors, on-shore maritime workers, and their families, people who are not unfamiliar with fights of every magnitude and description, stubbornness, egotism, personal quirks, people with moods, people with habits, people with eccentric friends. These aspects of Olson's life apparently didn't bother his fellow citizens (though some thought his schedule of sleeping during the day was not quite decent). It is only recently that Gloucesterites have begun reading Olson seriously, and not writing his poetry off as something incomprehensible. According to Anastas, many no longer find the formal difficulties of Olson's work as insurmountable as they did a few decades ago; many find what he had to say more relevant now than it seemed at the time of composition; and some now see him as a prophetic figure. Perhaps this would have been comforting for him to know since virtually none of his advice was taken by Gloucesterites during his lifetime, which probably added to the despair of his later years. Of course, appreciation isn't anywhere near universal now (I am talking about Gloucesterites), but Olson would probably have been pleased to know that he is still causing debate among his townspeople. If you check him out in another context, that of Black Mountain College, you could say that his notion of community was based in active debate.

The first letters were written after the publication of Maximus, I, II, III, when Olson was working on the next group of poems to Gloucester. As in the early Maximus, the letters are firmly based in speech patterns, but not the speech patterns of one who is delivering an oration (grandiose or homey) to a passive and silent audience: this is the speech of one who may need an oratorical stance and a command of strong rhetoric, but also one who has to make his points quickly, emphatically, pointedly, one who has to stay a step or two ahead of an opponent, who gets new ideas from what he himself is saying, who may have to adjust his argument in mid utterance, and who perpetually risks interruption. This characteristic of Olson's middle style turns some people off, but it makes it most active and most thoroughly alive to sympathetic readers. As the book moves towards the final letter, the oratorical and rhetorical elements tend to give way to private rumination, as is characteristic of the final Maximus volume. This is a language spun out of its own nuclei on the spot, moving away from imagery and conventional grammar and, in some ways, foreshadowing poetry in vogue in the '90s.

The book begins with letters protesting the Winslow Homer stamp. At this point Olson is dealing with local myth in a more or less conventional way: he wants to see the right guy be the hero. By the end of the book, he is, on the one hand, embittered and aware of his impending death, and, on the other hand, trying to encourage people to create their own mythology out of the material at hand, without the need for someone else to make it for them. Early or late, this mythic dimension is always tempered, refined, and informed by contact with the people of Gloucester, some becoming part of Olson's local mythology. The publisher of this collection, Ten Pound Island Book Company, operates out of Gloucester's bookstore. Proprietor Greg Gibson has published other books that relate to New England history and to nautical design. Some of these books have dedicated if small audiences, and the press more or less holds its own. Inland Distribution handles the book outside Gloucester, suggesting that Gibson is aware of the potentially larger audience as well. That audience, of course, includes dedicated Olson fans. For others, the book may be a useful introduction or adjunct to the rest of the opus.

Okay: the book is unusual, and maybe it'll do some good for a small city in New England, but does that have any significance for readers not interested in Olson archana or east coast fishing towns? In this case, it has a profound and emphatic significance: it firmly and irrefutably throws the emphasis of Olson's work back on the local -- on the detailed, immediate, and particular life of a polis that Olson thought essential to a proper vision of the world and existence in it. We are in a time when criticism can turn everything into abstraction, and for hundreds of readers Gloucester has only a metaphorical or imaginary significance, like Camelot or Tolkien's Hobbit land (you can get maps of the latter, perhaps more readily than maps of Gloucester). I don't see how this book could enter the realm of much contemporary criticism where "the local" is about as palpable as tertiary implied ontology. As such it insists on Olson's most basic premise in a way that a conventional scholarly work could not do.

This review was first published in American Book Review,
August-September, 1993.

Copyright © 1993 by Karl Young

No comments: