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238 Western American Literature a rock a stone a pebble greenblue veins lacing through too many years In Rocks, Wilson’s vision and voice merge to evoke what Charles Olson called Imago Mundi. I see your bodies hung among the stars’ vacuities luminous comets swirling out your lifeless eyes lips glowing with phosporous as round and round and round you turn in your final dance down a final swirl . . . Having seen several new poems in a manuscript in progress, entitled Booh of the Jaguar Priest, I can attest that Rocks is an important collection in the development of Wilson’s poetry. It defines his stance, not only as poet, but also, inextricably, as an individual living here at this moment between tomor­ row and yesterday. Many people will not easily accept the truth of Wilson’s poetry, especially as it will unfold in Book of the Jaguar Priest. But each man has the responsibility to know what he is, to admit that, to say it openly. If he is also a poet, his responsibility goes beyond this. He is at once the maker of ritual and the voice of all that is sacred. Keith Wilson is a poet of this order. Kenneth Brewer, Utah State University The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. By Marilyn Durham. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972. 246 pages, $6.95.) When Catherine Crocker kidnaps a gang of train robbers and heads out on a wild tour of Wyoming the reader begins to wonder if there was any point in getting the American West into the twentieth century. Everything about the novel is unlikely; the characters, the plot, the author and her unusual back­ ground. The book is a quickie, researched from juveniles, old catalogs and the WPA guide to Wyoming. Surprisingly, it is a first rate yarn. These days a first novel which is widely reviewed is something of an oc­ casion—a widely reviewed first novel with a Western setting is practically a landmark. Billed as “The First Women’s Lib Western,” Cat Dancing is not going to revolutionize Western literature, or any other kind. The only thing liberated about Catherine Crocker—a heroine from the now-classic Zane Grey mold—is her crotch. The rest of her bumbles along in the infuriatingly in­ genuous way of the pulp heroines of more than a generation. Catherine is not a pioneer woman whose delicate soul is crushed like a fragile flower by the cruelly masculine West. She is an Easterner with pretentions of being a lady who is briefly, and unhappily, visiting the West with her big, good-looking, Reviews 239 crybaby husband. The fact that she chooses flight as her answer, and then runs in the wrong direction, is what makes the story. Cat Dancing is almost just another story, deeply and honestly rooted in the Romantic tradition, of the equally destructive passions of love, hate, lust, and greed. But Catherine does most of the destroying, pantyless in a world of pants. Poor Billy gets his guts stomped out while blundering after her; Dawes discovers that rape in South Pass can hurt a guy’s image; Willard Crocker finishes his disintegration as a man; and Jay Grobart finds that love for the loveless is a short, dead-end trail. Charlie, the too-knowing Indian boy, is destroyed rather casually by some renegades of his own people. And good old Chief Washakie is an outrageous cross between king and clown. Cat Dancing is ten years dead when Jay Grobart robs a train to redeem his lost children, and himself. Cat never really had an existance on her own terms, but as pure innocence destroyed by the fantasies of a child and a childman . If there is a moral in this book it is that pure innocence can never sur­ vive, perhaps does not exist; especially in the brutal, somehow primeval ex­ perience of the Wilderness once corrupted by man. So the characters chase, and are chased by, their own personal ghosts across the Wyoming frontier. Harvey Lapchance, like Fate itself, and representing the real world, persues ; eating soda crackers and sipping buttermilk. Harvey is in many ways the most interesting member of the cast...


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pp. 238-239
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