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Reviews Conversations with Frank Waters. Edited by John R. Milton. (Chicago, The Swallow Press, Inc., 1971. 90 pages, illus., biblio., note, $4.00.) As talk-into-print, Conversations with Frank Waters reads like a cross be­ tween a Paris Review “Interview” and a transcript of The Dick Cavett Show. Combining decorous informality and popular enlightenment, this little book makes a sketchy but agreeable introduction to Frank Waters, man and writer. As part of a video-tape library of dialogues with major Western writers, Pro­ fessor John R. Milton of the University of South Dakota and his distinguished guest from New Mexico ranged over assorted topics in seven, thirty-minute sescions in the studios of KUSD-TV, Vermillion, back in November, 1964. These interviews form the text of Conversations—along with an editorial note, six fine photographs of Waters by Bob Kostka, and a nearly complete Waters bibli­ ography. (A graduate student, Karen Kling, joined the sixth parley, and writer Frederick Manfred the last; South Dakota Review printed the fourth.) Although only the video tapes capture Frank Waters’ drumbeat resonance and charming gestures, the reader easily discerns the man’s intuitive force. Through plain talk and cogent anecdote, Waters responds to Milton’s nimble probes, expressing firm views on the land, Southwestern culture, the meaning of his experience, literary effort, science, art, and religion. One “hears” the accent of positive freedom, passion intense yet composed: “I love to have a mountain in my backyard,” Waters declares. Cutting through systems of aes­ thetics, he intuits: “. . . I think the only value of art is to pass on an emotional experience to others.” Frowning on affectation, he notes: “You don’t have to beat a drum and all those things to be an Indian.” An appreciator of fine painting, he endorses Dorothy Brett: “She is the only painter I know who has caught on canvas the inherent mystical strain of the Indians.” But of D. H. Liwrence’s paintings, he states with elemental candor: “Well—I don’t like them. I just can’t stand them.” To point up Waters’ ethical relationship with the Indians, Milton poses a delicate query. “What experiences have you had with kiva practices?” and Waters courteously stolid, replies: “That’s something I would rather not get into.” Since these engaging 1964 South Dakota talks, Waters has gotten into a number of things: The Woman at Otowi Crossing (1966), Pumpkin Seed Point (1969), and Pike’s Peark (1971) ; and teaching, speaking, traveling, and research. Since then his work has attracted more critical attention; and several of his Reviews 231 titles have had large reprintings. Thus—for all of this little book’s historical import, situational unity, and editorial assertion (“what appears in this text is the essential Waters”) — today’s reader/buyer might wish that Milton had included one latter-day powpow— to bridge that seven-year gap and sharpen perspective. MARTIN BUCCO, Colorado State University All Is But A Beginning. By John G. Neihardt. Introduction by Dick Cavett. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972. 173 pages, $5.95.) Dr. John G. Neihardt, now past ninety-two, author of more than twenty books and poet laureate of Nebraska as well as the recipient of many honors, has written the story of his boyhood from the time of his birth to the time of his first school teaching experience and his burning of his first masterpiece, The Divine Enchantment, at age 19. If anyone has the idea that poets are made by growing up in ivory towers, Dr. Neihardt’s story will correct that view. Although through the mists of memory he sees everything with compassion, the reader is bound to realize that he grew up amid poverty and disappointment. Aware as he is of the failure of his father to make a good living, he never lets that fact dim the love he feels for his father; and when, after a bitter quarrel with the mother and an absence of several days, the father comes back to the house and does not gain admission, but goes out into the night never to return, it is little John who rushes to the door and calls goodbye and hears the echo...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 230-231
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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