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hanged." This new collection of poems, like Durrell's sensual writings , paints the desires and shortcomings of the human heart. The title poem depicts the hardship of a relationship deteriorating: "So as I lay there, the roof bursting with invisible/branches, the darkness doubhng in their shade,/the accusations turning truths in the not-loving,/Green Ash Red Maple, Black Gum, I prayed,/in the neverbeen -faithful, in the don't-touchme ,/in the can't-bear-it-any-longer,¡Black Gum, Black Gum, Black Gum." Waters' work also demonstrates how nature can instruct us on art and creation. The bare branches of winter trees in "First Lesson: Winter Trees" illuminate the path for art and life: "So the task is simple: to live/without yearning, to kindle/this empty acre with trees touched/by winter, to shade them without simile,/without strain. There: the winter trees./Their singular, hushed sufficiency." Overall, Water's genius is his ability to balance on the edge of sentimentality , while never becoming overly saccharine. In "New Age," for example: "I sifted some coins, dialed, asked you please to come get me./ How many unnameable/passions must we ruin till we hurt each other enough?/How many grievances mouth/till the splintery soul flames beyond resurrection?/Let the ambiguities /of fiction conspire complex answers. AU you required,/love, was a little change." (KF) White Crosses by Larry Watson Pocket Books, 1997, 237 pp., $23 Larry Watson's fourth novel is set in Bentrack, on the plains of eastern Montana. While it takes place during the 1950s, it is anything but a period piece. In this timeless small town, the same story could have occurred , with few changes, in any decade since the forties. It concerns what happens after a car accident in which the town's high school principal and a just-graduating student named Junie Moss are killed. Told from the perspective of the town's sheriff, Jack Nevelsen, the book treats the nature and consequences of well-intentioned deceit, as it works out over a period of months. Nevelsen is neither an impressive man of action nor particularly intelligent , but he wants to do the right thing. While on the inside, he experiences life as a painfully shy, frustrated man, he feels compelled by circumstance to play god. To prevent the fatal accident from destroying the reputation of the dead school principal—whom he grew up with, always envied, and never particularly liked—the sheriff constructs a false version of what happened. These events occur at the beginning of the story, and the rest describes the results of Nevelsen's attempt to protect the old order. He is a decent man who broods over his own actions . His problem is that aU the brooding in the world cannot make up for his lack of imagination about the potential destructiveness of lies set forth "for the public good." Despite his kind intentions, Nevelsen slides mysteriously toward disaster. It is a classic theme of serious fiction —the insufficiency of good motives . The author's own father was a sheriff in North Dakota, so he builds The Missouri Review · 227 on natural interest and experience. I appreciate the realism of White Crosses. Watson surprises us with details that add dimension to his protagonist. The weakness of this novel is also its strength. It presents a compelling psychological portrait of one man, but somewhat to the detriment of the rest of his characters . I would have enjoyed more occasions of leaving the musty confines of the sheriff's ruminations, which have an air of doom from the start, and learning more about the people of Bentrock. (SM) Reviews by: Evelyn Somers, Hugh Rozelle, Kris Somerville, John Byrne, Beth Farrow, John Dyer Fort, Seth Bro, Speer Morgan , Michael Byers, Brett Rogers, Steve Weinberg, Willoughby Johnson, Kristen Foshay Remainders & Reminders by Sam Stowers The categories in bookstores have become increasingly specialized. One store I was in recently had a section for "Essays about Cooking and Eating." "The Personal Essay," however , is not a standard category. Montaigne, father of the modern personal essay (his predecessors included Christian apologists such as Augustine), believed that each human life bears the imprint of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 217-218
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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