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Reviews 371 This is a rich story, but a sad one, of an uneducated artist whose gifts were matched only by his ego and insecurity. Written anecdotally, the book is eminently readable. Gifford and Lee point to three major traumas that shaped Saroyan’s life: the death of his father in 1911, which led him to spend five years in an orphanage; his two tempestuous marriages to New York debutante Carol Marcus; his induction into the Army in 1942, an event that snatched him from a pinnacle of success and thrust him, an archetypal anti­ organization man, into a lock-step. It is clear that the death of his father haunted Saroyan throughout his life. He wrote about it, talked about it and, more importantly, was rendered profoundly insecure by it. He compensated by blaring his ego and that, in turn, made him a range of enemies that rivalled Attila the Hun’s. The Fresnan admitted the importance of the other two traumas: “Three years in the army and a stupid marriage had all but knocked me out of the picture and, if the truth be told, out of life itself.” Gifford and Lee’s biography is organized unusually. It begins in 1940 with Saroyan on top, then follows his life for ten years, then ventures back to his youth and forward again. Nonetheless, it is interesting and valuable, clearly the best biography presently available. The authors are not intrusive but neither are they naive. At the end of the volume, they picture a man questioning his own life and its impact. “I have failed,” they quote Saroyan as saying. “My children have grown up and gone away and don’t love me. I have no wealth. I have no fame. I have no real reason to be glad. And yet I go on.” Indeed, he did. If you’re interested in modern American literature, read this book. GERALD HASLAM Sonoma State University Hunger & Dreams: The Alaskan Women’s Anthology. Edited by Patricia Monaghan; illustrated by Jan Leone. (Fairbanks, Alaska: Fireweed Press, 1983. 109 pages, $7.95 paper.) “The Alaska in this book is a land of hunger and dreams, and the women who live here are survivors of both.” Twenty-one Alaskan women through their prose and poetry tell of this survival. Native Alaskan women’svoicesjoin with their non-native sisters to explore a wide gamut of life, tradition, emo­ tions, and history. “Fish Story” chronicles a life. “Old Lady / Baits her hook with words / All day talks fish / Through a hole in the ice / End of the day / Sets a spruce bush in the hold / Packs her story home.” It is a girl approaching womanhood who packs her story home in the stunning “The Poaching.” In the fierce cold that freezes reason, the reader follows a young girl’s mind as she experiences the skinning of an illegal moose. In lean words, 372 Western American Literature the author lets us into the secret world of Dell, whose hunger and dreams touch both the light and dark parts of us all. Each piece in the collection is worthy of a separate review, including the very fine illustrations which accent and never intrude. Images that are almost archetypal stay in the mind from this anthology: a scrap of red fox skin, a questing mouth, a Raven clan face, hands that flow in rhythms, one wild rose bud, a plump green soapstone rabbit, the voice ofa horse, seeds of curled mint, an unrest of crows, nuns in green slickers, a bearded lady, a wolf ruff blazing like a corona around a weathered face, women’sblood that births the world, hands whose turned-out thumbs gave a busy air. The last poem in the anthology says, “There is no word for goodbye.” There are, however, summary words for this anthology: Hunger and Dreams equals creativity and excellence. D. ALEXA WEST Utah State University Kit Carson: A Pattern for Heroes. ByThelma S. Guild and Harvey L. Carter. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. 367 pages, $18.95 cloth.) Kit Carson is one of the most famous figures in American history, yet he has not received the scholarly attention or analysis he deserves. He...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 371-372
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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