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has written a book that will engage scholars of western Americana as well as general readers. ESTHER LANIGAN The CollegeofWilliam & Mary 368 WesternAmerican Literature INTER/VIEW. Talks with America’s Writing Women. By Mickey Pearlman and Katherine Usher Henderson. (Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1990. 216 pages, $25.00.) This collection ofliterary interviews ofwomen writers conducted bywomen is the first of its kind. Continuing the focus of Pearlman’s 1989 American Women WritingFiction, it also examines the ways that perception of space, memory, and family differentiate women from men writers. Twenty-eight writers were inter/ viewed: white, black, Asian, Native American; they ranged in age from thirty-two (Mona Simpson) to ninety (Janet Lewis); their geographical distribution was principally New York and the Northeast (16), California (8), the South a stingy 3 and the Midwest and the West were totally excluded. The editors are ingenu­ ously frank in admitting their choices depended “partly on taste, on our own training at Columbia and the Graduate School of the City University of New York, and on geography, availability, and the means to do the interviewing.” They also appear to have used TheNew Yorkermap of the U.S. The observations gathered and shaped into mini-essays on each writer are candid and personal and shed light on the woman writer’sview ofherselfand of men who write. Regrettably, the format allows them only comments studded in the shaped essay rather than developed statements. The relevant quotations range from the facile to the profound: “In a book by awoman, rape won’t be fun and women won’t be simple-minded.” “Writing about family life in the twenti­ eth century may really mean writing about mothers and children. Fathers are present as absences in the family. Who really had a father? Even people who did have fathers didn’t. Men are working.” “Jane Austen was not going to write Moby Dick." “Men are at the end of a long breath and waiting for the next breath.” Clearly, men are out, women are in. The message is also clear about the importance to a woman writer not to live in the West, where people don’t read, and especially not to live at the top of a canyon where “a lot of people would not drive up to see you.” These are examples of not making correct career choices. It is important to be visible, to network, and to be close to The New York Times Book Review and the critics and the choosers of books. No doubt this wisdom was born of pain, but the message it conveys is troubling. CORALIE BEYERS Logan, Utah ...


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