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378 WesternAmerican Literature for two more years, elsewhere within the state. The present work, a bargain in hard or soft cover, brings together most of the original exhibit along with many photographs that did not make the initial cut; it also includes beautifully produced relief maps, charts, engravings, and text vignettes. Some of the images—for example, a portfolio of early photographs that suggest the charac­ ter of the all but extinct native American valley residents and reveal their genetic homogeneity—are illuminating, unforgettable. Others, such as the reproductions of brilliantly colored fruit box labels, are Warhol-delightful. Still others are evocative, harrowing, eerie, self-consciously artistic, documentary. Inclusiveness and variety have been the principles for selection here, with the result that the graphics convey only a few common impressions—space, pleni­ tude, the often unlovely human imprint, ethnic diversity. The photographs in the original exhibit were arranged in two core group­ ings, one “historical,” the other subdivided according to the words on an illuminated welcoming sign that spans Highway 99 in a rainbow arc at the edge of Modesto: Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health. But in The Great Central Valley the images have been rearranged to complement a text, eight chapters by Gerald Haslam that sketch the valley’s history, sublocales, events, and person­ ages, touch on major issues confronting the region, and speculate about its future. LikeJohnson, Haslam makes a virtue of multifacetedness. He writes as a crossdisciplinary purveyor of specialized lore and statistics, as recounter of interviews, as arbiter of valley residents’ conflicting views, and, throughout, as man of letters.Joaquin Miller, Mary Austin, Richard Rodriguez, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many other writers of and from the valley make their brief appearances. Haslam is rich with local information that is good to know, the sort of person you’d like tojoin on a leisurely tour of the area. Although a splendid and on the whole successful publication, the book is underedited (we learn three times on two consecutive pages that its page layout is byJohnson, using a Macintosh) and too busily designed. It’s a challenge to maintain one’s mental focus as the format keeps varying from page to page, presenting ever new arrangements of material that invite special attention yet again. And the faint gray ink used for captions, headers, and page numbers was a disastrous choice. WAYNE KIME Fairmont State College On William Stafford: The Worth ofLocal Things. Edited by Tom Andrews. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993. 281 pages, $39.50.) The recent death ofWilliam Stafford gives this critical anthology a particu­ lar interest and poignancy. It offers rich materials for a retrospective look at Stafford’s work, and the very full bibliography will be useful for serious critics. Reviews 379 Stafford’s poetry doesn’t always attract close textual criticism, and it is interest­ ing to consider the extent to which the critics see the poems as products of character and sensibility. Thomas Hardy comes to mind, though Hardy was a more self-conscious craftsman. It seems difficult to write an essay on Stafford without calling him “quiet,” a term that seems accurate enough in an impres­ sionistic way but doesn’t take us far into the art of the poems. They have their own rhetoric for all their naturalness. Two critics in this volume who are not sympathetic with Stafford’s poetics, Robert Creeley and Bob Perelman, have done us a service by noting that there is a rhetoric at work. If it is the height of art to conceal art, as Larochefoucauld said, then Stafford’s art is high indeed, Andrews has divided his book into three sections: book reviews, general studies, and studies of individual poems. The volume is rather heavy on book reviews. Some of these might have been sacrificed in order to reprint some of the longer articles on Stafford listed in the bibliography, like John Lauber’s “The World’s Guest—William Stafford” and George S. Lensing’s “William Stafford, Mythmaker.” Among the best of the longer articles is Jeff Gundy’s previously unpublished essay on Down in My Heart, Stafford’s account of his experiences as a conscientious objector. The essays on individual poems are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 378-379
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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