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Reviews 71 to result from his trip — “Spirit That Form’d This Scene,” will be under a lake, helping to quench the thirst of a city still booming a hundred years after he visited it.) Eitner’s text reflects a commendable research effort, one that shows the shortcomings of some of us who have worked on the same subject. His book does seem to have a minor note problem, with the first one to Chapter 3; Eitner references the Lawrence, Kansas, Daily Journal, 11 September 1879, for a report of Whitman’s arrival in that town on 14 September. However, given the meticulous effort everywhere else, I suspect Eitner has the correct date in his draft and this date conflict is simply a typographical error that detracts not at all from this fine addition to Whitman scholarship. JAMES R. NICHOLL Western Carolina University Ecotopia Emerging. By Ernest Callenbach. (Berkeley: Banyan Tree Books, 1981. 326 pages, $7.95.) Ernest Callenbach hates cars — in this novel, the word driver is an obscenity. His description of the air of a great city, in the early 1980s, is that every molecule has passed through at least one engine and exhaust system. It is a mad, unreal, almost totally alienated scene; rivers of cars, cars, cars are pouring, stopping, intertwining. But out on the Bolinas headlands, a teenage girl is working on a cheap, easily manufactured solar cell: in Sacramento, some calm, awakened poli­ tical people are forming the Survivalist party, and starting to spread the word of ecological sanity through cable-TV messages; in Washington and Oregon, victims of 2,4-D spraying and nuclear-plant meltdown suddenly realize their solidarity: in northern California again, an employee of a chemical company sees the error of his ways and turns his life around one hundred eighty degrees: a family struck by cancer becomes an activist guerilla unit. The elements of Ecotopia are gathering, coalescing. The corporate-industrial-bureaucratic powers, of course, are sensitive to this; they are perfectly out of touch with any local earth-place, but their feelers for politics are extraordinarily delicate. They send burglars in the night to Bolinas, and they mass troops threateningly on the NevadaCalifornia border. Locked into their nuclear, central-power madness, they cannot understand the soft-teclmology path. Gradually, though, as Survival­ ist ideas penetrate into the Ecotopian territory, Washington finds itself facing an accomplished fact: secession, accompanied by a quietly rational, decisive, earth-minded declaration of independence. The West, at the end of the 72 Western American Literature novel, has begun to fulfill the ecological vision: in-place, steady-state, lowenergy living; small, employee-owned companies; libertarian social contract: in all things, ecological accounting. Ecotopia Emerging is an angry, hopeful, intelligent, accurate tract. It is an honest attempt at practicality: as the sequel to Ecotopia (1976), which was a sort of Looking Backward in green, it tries to show in detail how an ecologically responsible society might actually come about. But it is not a very good novel, as a novel. It’s simply too programmatic. Some of the ecotopians are so righteous they border on the insufferable — particularly the solar-cell inventor, who plans her own “adulthood” ceremony as a tribal ritual. The scene is cloying. It might be argued that this failure in characterization, if such it be, calls into question the humanness of the author’s entire vision. But I wonder if there has ever been a utopian novel which is also a good novel — that is, for a minimum, one that heeds the paradoxes, depth, and occasional plain orneriness of people. Perhaps we face here a fundamental clash of genres. Read as an essay, though, Ecotopia Emerging is instructive. In particular, there is an identity for the West here that is highly interesting. Callenbach’s West is the land of maturity and coming to terms with limits; his East is still lost in frontier-minded dreams of growth and power. THOMAS J. LYON, Utah State University Southwest Fiction. Edited by Max Apple. (New York: A Bantam Book, 1981. xix + 344 pages, $2.95.) The landscape and cultural history of the Southwest have long attracted both artists and writers. As Apple writes in his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 71-72
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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