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216Fourth Genre spiritual ascent." In Hampl's words, Augustine "invents autobiography not to reveal his memory ofhis Ufe but to plumb the memory ofGod's creative urge." In two essays that frame the book, "Memory and Imagination" and "The Need to Say It," Hampl examines the impulse and desire to read and write memoir, skiUfuUy debunking the myth that memoir is simply transcription. "Detaüs are not merely information, not flat facts," Hampl writes. "Such detaüs are not aUowed to lounge. They must work. Their labor is the creation ofsymbol ." In the language of symboUsm, memory embraces imagination. Fütered through the imagination, memory is transfigured into the art ofmemoir. In "The Need to Say It" Hampl addresses the question of why writers render experience into memoir rather than novels by linking the roots of contemporary memoir to poetry rather than fiction: "The chaotic lyric impulse, not the smooth drive ofplot, is the engine ofmemory." Memory is, by nature, imagistic. Through this fundamental connection between memoir and poetry, memoir supersedes mere nostalgia. Memoir does more than teU stories; it chronicles, educates, reflects, symbolizes, and assures continuity as Hampl's abundant evidence attests. "In both lyric poetry and the memoir the real subject is consciousness in the light ofhistory," Hampl writes, key to understanding the appeal and importance of the genre. Novelist Maureen Howard wrote that 2" Could Tell You Stories should not be read as a "corrective to the self-absorbed autobiographies of our era." I agree, and that is not Hampl's intention in this book, especiaUy since many of her essays predate the recent surge in American autobiography. Hampl's long-standing and painstaking interrogation of memoir and memory, evident in these essays, moves far beyond a refutation of the shaUow, ornery criticisms of contemporary memoir. For over two decades Hampl has appUed her keen inteUect—as both creator and critic—toward her fascination with memory and memoir, and her insights, the treasures in this collection , are unfaüingly sturdy, honest, and above aU, wise. Reviewed by Maureen P. Stanton The Woods Stretchedfor Miles: New Nature Writingfrom the South John Lane and Gerald Thurmond, editors University of Georgia Press, 1999 256 pages, paper, $16.95 Perhaps it is best to begin with a simple admission: many of us wfll come to John Lane's and GeraldThurmond's The Woods Stretchedfor Miles: New Nature Book Reviews217 Writingfrom the South ignorant ofthe landscapes, seascapes, cultures, and even history that this selection ofessays offers its readers. But it is to this volume's credit that such ignorance is not an impediment to its appreciation and enjoyment. In fact, reading these essays may weU be a smaU, but fruitful step toward developing the intimate's eye for these places. At the very least, these essays wfll send readers back to their shelves and offto the bookstore. In my own case, I've rediscovered WendeU Berry, long taken for granted, finaUy puUed Janet Lembke's Dangerous Birds from my shelf, and quickly ordered Christopher Caimitos promising Another Country: Journeying toward the Cherokee Mountains. I can also weU imagine that those native to these landscapes and this Uterature wfll applaud finaUy finding some ofthe richness and variety of the South brought together for the first time under one cover. Range, then, is one strength of this coUection. These essays take us from WendeU Berry's Kentucky farm to Janet Lembke's mobfle home on North CaroUna's shore; later in the volume we find ourselves in Archie Carr's Florida backyard, which he happily shares with an aUigator, and in Stephen Harrigan's Austin, where Treaty Oak faces its final days. We can also hike into Mississippi's Black CreekWüderness area with Rick Bass, float into the Great Dismal Swamp with Bland Simpson, and slog waist-deep into a Georgia lime sink pond to stand under a heron and egret rookery with James Kilgo. InJan DebUeu's essay, Hurricane Gloria swirls around us, while in Harry Middleton's we are haunted with the sound of bagpipes deep in the Smokies. In the most chaUenging essay, Marüou Awiakata asks us to "daydream primal space," to try a way ofseeing stül aUve...


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pp. 216-218
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