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reviews 141 also with good humor, and sometimes compassion. The poem "Liberace" deserves to be quoted: It took generations to mature this figure. Every day it had to be caught sneaking off to its piano lesson and beaten up. Every day it came back for more .... It wears rubies on its fingers now. Between its dimples, its leer is fixed. Its cheeks are chocked, its eyes twinkle. It knows. Thank you, it breathes with ointment in its voice, Thank you very much. Holden turns in the second section of the book to subjects more personal—the relationship between father and son, the intimate relationship between a man and a woman. The poems often emphasize new insight by the speaker's physical removal from the scene, being up on the roofor on a mountain, allowing for perspective. The goal here is a more honest or more workable male identity, one where "only the human remains,/our two human faces licked clean/of disguises like two friends ..." Ofthethree books under review here. FallingfromStardom shows thestrongest organization and purpose. Too often, I think, a poet's publication of separate poems in magazines determines what getsincluded in thebook. The main effectofthe book gets lost. When communication between poet and reader breaks down like this, it only reinforces the isolation ofpoetry as the difficult, deliberately mysterious genre. Poets, to increase their audience, must demonstrate that they see clearly how their poems hang together and communicate that theme through careful editing and organization . "This is the level ofart," as Oppen says. "There areother levels./But there is noother level of art." PETER ORESICK Charles Baxter. Harmony ofthe World. Columbia, Missouri: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1984. 149 pp. $8.95 (paper). Ivy Goodman. Heart Failure. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1984. 139 pp. $12.95 (hardcover ), $8.95 (paper). Joe Ashby Porter. The KentuckyStories. Baltimore: TheJohns Hopkins University Press, 1983. 128 pp. $12.50. Scott R. Sanders. Fetching the Dead. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1984. 141 pp. $11.95 About ten years ago now, when I asked the first old famous writer I had ever known how he felt about short stories, he smiled and tossed his mane (no kidding) of white hair. "Short stories?" he said. "Terrific way to make money. Just turn out a few acouple oftimes a year, and send them offto the TheNew Yorker, and thereyou are." Thiswas for mea shocking reply, and not merely because of my inability to imagine making that kind of money, or wearing the mantel ofliterary fame so casually . What I found so startling was the characterization of the short story's implicitly low status within what, following Terry Eagleton, I would now call the literary mode of production. And it seems to me that that characterization lies on the other side ofa considerable chasm within the area of the l.m.p. marked off as prose fiction. For Wright Morris, as, I suspect, for Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and—intermittently, at least—even Hemingway before him, short stories were first and foremost slight entertainments churned out to make satisfying^ prestigious filler in the magazines, plus a quick fee for the writer him - or herself. For those who came up as fiction writers when and 142 the minnesota review how I have, they are, instead, in and ofthemselves a specific art. This latter aestheticist definition is, ofcourse, not without its own problems and contradictions, as the collections under review below reveal. Before moving to them, though, I would want to advance the hypothesis that two broad historical developments within the literary mode ofproduction are largely responsible for this definitional shift: first, the decline ofthe "general audience" (i.e., bourgeois) public-sphere magazine, from the now defunct Collier's and Saturday Evening Postto the dwindling fortunes ofAtlanticand Harper's in the age ofelectronic media, and the declineofthe American bourgeois public sphere in general; and, second, the academization/aestheticization of whatcomes to becalled "creative writing" in the academic programs now constructed tocreate and define it. What do such programs produce? Creative writers, just as engineering programs create engineers. Only these newly minted writers, unlike engineers, will find no one bidding for their services—especially when the product they offer...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 141-145
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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