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

76 Western American Literature and over the Appalachians, cross the Mississippi, and find myself at last on the great plains headed toward the Rocky Mountains still far to the west over the horizon. Let no one mistake the feeling: it is a thrill of a most genuine and primitive nature. It is not inappropriate to mention this here, because it is sometming of the same feeling that Dan Jaffe experienced when, a native of New Jersey, he headed for the first time into the raw untamed lands of the West in 1958 in his 1953 Chevrolet. As a native Westerner, I find that I must adopt a swaggering attitude as my initial reaction to this greenhorn from the East; I must take care that he be impressed with what he finds; that he be impressed with his inadequacy to measure up to his new surroundings; and that he be impressed with my calm, cavalier acceptance of what he regards so new and wondrous strange. But such chauvinism has its inherent limitations, and we are left with the sober realization that, even in 1958, the West still has much of its basic idealistic appeal. Dan Jaffe wishes to identify with what he finds, and it is in Dan Freeman the man, Dan Freeman the pioneer, Dan Freeman the idealist, that he finds the object of his search. I cannot believe that Jaffe’s telling of the story of Dan Freeman comes off as he wishes or even perhaps believes it to do; it is difficult to become impressed with the tale as it is told. Those portions of the book in verse, written as climactic exclamation points to the running prose commentary of Dan Freeman’s life, fail to give to me the sense of urgency, import, and vitality which I am certain the poet wishes me to feel. The reason, I believe, is not difficult to find: a man of Dan Freeman’s temperament, local importance, and lack of fame requires (if we are to be expected to share the author’s admira­ tion for him) the extended treatment which can be had only from a longer art form. Certainly the novel form would be more able to convey what Dan Jaffee wishes us to feel than does his biographical sketch sporadically punctu­ ated with verse which fails to yield the sense of high import (and even selfimportance ) which the poet feels. Much of Jaffe’s writing makes it clear that he is a poet; at the same time too much of what he writes is prevented from becoming poetry by its very subject matter, by its concern with an episodical yarn, and by its overriding preoccupation to impress us with the importance of incidents in the life of a man whom we never really come to know. C harles G. W iley , East Carolina University The Last Jew in America. By Leslie A. Fiedler. (New York: Stein & Day, 1966. 191 pages, $4.95.) At one point in Leslie Fiedler’s new collection, The Last Jew in America, Reviews 77 a Negro character sardonically claims the West belongs more to him than the standard pioneer because he is a direct descendant of York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of 1804-6. This York, proprietor and bartender of the Flame Lounge in a Western town named Lewis and Clark City (a familiar disguise for Missoula, Montana, where Fiedler was for twenty-some years a professor of English at the University of Montana), exemplifies the ironic, bitter affection with which, in this series of three novellas, Fiedler brings the contemporary West into perspective and contrasts it contemptuously with the overpowering myth of frontier superi­ ority which has otherwise dominated the literature of the region. It is not Fiedler’s intent, I am sure, to perform this service, but by the mere fact of writing critically and perceptively about a Western community in a manner which refuses to view it through that golden aura which surrounds the region’s brief and primitive history, he has succeeded at least in placing this more mythically than geographically separated region back into the twentieth century and the main concerns of American literature...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 76-78
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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.