In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 159 During a strike, Pinoy tidily ignored the contradictions in the local labor movement: The union had told me to stay on, keep open even though they picketed. When they needed cigarettes, sugar, or coffee, when they needed box matches to light torches at the labor rally, they still came to me, caUing from the back door, and I sold in secret, out of pity, and for the plantation, at a profit. Nobody lost. (17) In the ready acceptance of these contradictions, worthy of Brecht's Mother Courage, Pinoy seems to repress an understanding of the structures of oppression and his complicity in the growers' exploitation. And yet, the poet does not build a moralistic condemnation of Pinoy into the structure of the dramatic monologue, probably because, given his limited choices and the natural human desire for self- and family-improvement, he would perforce develop an individualistic attitude and program in the effort to achieve his goals. As Hongo writes in "The Pier," "I think splendor must be something of what we aU want/somehow, respite from privation and a world/of diminishment" (62). Unfortunately, Pinoy has failed to see the fragility of gains made from accommodation. Rather than perceiving the social dimension that contributed heavily to his subsequent troubles, he attributes their cause to natural misfortunes alone, a horrendous flu epidemic that afflicted his whole family. Infused now with a religious longing, he wants to leave the scene of this world, the plantation area, to express the fuUness of his grief, and purify himself "for the world I know is to come": I wanted to get up on a ridge someplace where kings and their holy men might have sacrificed or buried, in secret, some intruder's unholy bones. I wanted rain to fall and streams to churn and waterfalls, as they fell from the pali across mossy stone, to glow with the homely, yellow light of mourning, our candles lit for the souls unwinding in their shrouds and shrieking off the cliff-coasts of these islands. (18-19) Moving beyond the self-serving, self-satisfying, and (ultimately) personaUy debiUtating poses of the first part of the poem, Pinoy in his suffering attains a reverence for ancestral spiritual power. One may argue that this, too, is a rhetorical stance, but the invocation of tradition at least stands in opposition to forces of oppression. Ambitious in its thematic scope and range of techniques, Garrett Hongo's poetry is passionate without being sentimental, clear without losing the complexity that his vital subject matter warrants. Six years elapsed between the publication of his first book, YeUow Light, and The River of Heaven, suggesting that some fine wheat needs to ripen slowly. THOMAS FINK Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction andthe Utopian Imagination by Tom Moylan. New York: Routledge, 1987. pp. 242. $39.95 (cloth); $13.95 (paper). Anyone—conservative, socialist, whatever—with more than a passing interest in science fiction and (by consequence for those on the left) Utopian fiction should welcome Tom Moylan's intelUgent, politicaUy engaged, often provocative study of four more-or-less recent "critical utopias": Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Ursula LeGuin's The Dispossessed, Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time and Samuel Delaney's Triton. Moylan says 160 the minnesota review his study's subject is a "consideration of the relationship between oppositional politics and Utopian writing" (12). That's honest and accurate enough, and on the whole the author keeps on track throughout. The book's argument also exemplifies how thoroughly, if at times problematicaUy, feminism has become a great questioner of, as well as a main source of energies for, contemporary oppositional politics. Demand the Impossible begins with a brief (12 pages) historical introduction, passes on to a section on Theory (27 pages), and then to detailed examination of the four novels (140 pages). The Conclusion (17 pages) sums up the argument and connects it, at times gratuitously, to various current theories and issues. The bibUography and index seem thorough and useful. In a sense Moylan doesn't miss a trick, at least in his readings of the four novels. He has read the books deeply and alertly, displays a scholarly...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 159-160
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.