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88 Western American Literature take for granted as we make our way through life. For nineteen years as a pro-baller, nearly everything had been done for him. Decisions about travel, meals, lodging — all had been arranged for him by the teams he played for — and now he is faced with the task of reintegrating himself with his family: his wife, Dixie, who is tart and complaining and vaguely dissatisfied with her life; a son by another marriage, Leon, a successful jazz musician from whom Durwood has been alienated for most of the young man’s life; two daughters, Celia, a rebellious and creative teenager, and Nissa, a pre-teen who is almost a stranger to Durwood. Ask Me Now is a good, well-written novel told at a relaxed and leisurely pace. As in his previous novels, particularly in Sitting Pretty and Who is Angelina?, Young’s special talent is for vivid characterization and finely realized dialogue. The plot of the novel becomes secondary to the myriad tiny plots that unfold in each scene as characters are continually refined and delineated more by what they say than by what they do. Durwood Knight is closely akin to Sidney J. “Sitting Pretty” Prettymon and Angelina Creen. All throughout the novels in which they appear, they are in the process of learning, and the reader is generally always surprised by the little revelations they make about themselves, even in the novels’last pages, which keep adding dimension to them as realistic characters. In one of the last scenes in Ask Me Now, Durwood is being interviewed by a free-lance writer and part-time bartender. Durwood talks about what he’s learned in his years as a pro ball­ player: “. . . On the pro scene, you’ve got a game going within a game — a play within a play, I guess you might say — and it boils down to this . . . and this is what I’ve learned. . . . Any job you accept brings you a regular pay check, you live with that job and you think about it. You figure, well, they’re paying me to play basketball, but I’m paying dues too. . . . All I’m saying is you learn everything there is to know about life no matter what line of endeavor you take up.” So Durwood, now being asked, sums up his life — and inadvertently the last month or so that he’s been through — and the reader learns that he has apparently grasped the new game plan he finds himself with after retirement. GEARY HOBSON, Alexander, Arkansas Speaking for Nature. By Paul Brooks. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. 304 pages, $12.95.) The revival of an exploitative policy of natural resource use by the new national administration is seen by many to signal the end of a concept of stewardship won at hard cost out of the efforts of many individuals and groups in the past century who have cared for our natural heritage, chief of Reviews 89 all native gifts and a resource Americans traditionally have taken for granted and used up as casually as Kleenex. These concerned people, among whom, fortunately, are many astute and sensitive writers, have been on the barri­ cades in defense of issues affecting the quality of life of every American, whether he is aware of the dangers to himself and his posterity or not. Paul Brooks, himself a distinguished member of the group he writes about (winner of the John Burroughs Medal; board member of several conservation organizations, including the Sierra Club and the Public Lands Institute; Audubon member extraordinary) traces the careers of nearly fifty men and women in a series of interlocking portraits, from the time of Henry David Thoreau to Rachel Carson. Not that the notion of conserving wild nature was the brain-child of Thoreau alone, but to his inestimable credit he almost single-handedly raised the landscape from its status as commodity to the plane of spirit. The writers who speak for nature in this volume are all of the tribe of Thoreau, one way or another, in agreement with him that what is important is not what man looks at but what he sees and that...


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pp. 88-90
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