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Reviews 63 boozy priapic professor chasing various indignities across campus and barroom. References to MTV, Jimmy Swaggart and the recently deceased former Lions quarterback Bobby Layne turn up as readily as mentions of Gunter Grass and Melville, again an indication of the dissolute spin Locklin gives to the reality of modern culture. The small classic of these renegade publications is the novella The Confer­ ence, written (according to the Locklin Biblio) a dozen years ago but just now seeing print. Ostensibly the story of one Jimmy Abbey, an alcoholic tenured English professor, and his misadventures at a structuralism conference at a California alpine resort, the story is really a savage—though utterly non-judgemental —commentary on the anti-literary nature of modern academia. Why anyone assumes that literature—or even original criticism—has any chance of surviving the nightmarish daisy-chain of committee meetings, hiring letters, advisory councils, tenure hearings and conferences that subtext this magnifi­ cently deadpanned satire may be the central critical quandary of our moment. The scrupulously edited Locklin Biblioalso offers a number of appreciations from Locklin’s compatriots, several key poem reprints and accurate informa­ tion on fifty-five A-Section items (anthology and small magazine appearances will require a second volume). The immaculate fugitive spirit of all the writing that pushes the margins of such activity in this country is captured in a quote from Locklin annotating the book Toad’sSabbatical. “Ted (Simmons, the editor) was a good guy. He did all the printing and binding etc. himselfI think and then had a flood that destroyed most of the copies of the later titles so yes they are very rare.”Libraries with an eye for collecting one of the most significant voices to emerge from the urban American West might consider gathering these slim volumes to their shelves in lieu of a similar fate. SCOTT PRESTON Hailey, Idaho A Society to Match the Scenery: Personal Visions of the Future of the American West. Edited by Gary Holthaus, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Charles F. Wilkinson, and Eve Stryker Munson. (Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1991. 260 pages, $24.95.) This collection is the publishing debut of the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West, the “proceedings”of two symposia held there in 1988 and 1990. Like most proceedings, it presents avariety ofviewpoints. Some essays deserve thoughtful reading (Patricia Limerick’s, William Kittredge’s, Wallace Stegner’s, for examples); some are merely briefnods toward particular economic, social or political agendas. Some seem almost reflexes to the stimu­ lus, “Say something about the West.” 64 WesternAmerican Literature One value of this collection is its effort to consider the West’s future by connecting through the present to its historical past, a past that includes errors, injustices, outrages as well as courage, strength and wisdom. It does not cel­ ebrate—or lament—what has already happened, so much as envision whatwill/ should happen in the future. As Patricia Limerick observes, the title implies that, “up to this point, the scenery has considerably outscored the society,”but symposia like these offer hope for the future. The views expressed range the spectrum. Daniel Kemmis, mayor of Missoula, advocates turning federal lands over to local governments, an idea more favored by developers than conservationists. William Kittredge gives us the history of his family’s misguided, ultimately destructive efforts to “use”land they did not understand. Philip Burgess pleads for realization that economic and environmental concerns coincide in important ways. Sally Fairfax, strenu­ ously iconoclastic, denies the existence of the West as “a discrete political or cultural identity,”and, herself using such terms as “the new kid on the block” and “whole nine yards,” sneers at “sustainable agriculture” as a “buzzword.” John Echohawk briefly contradicts all that Fairfax says. Wallace Stegner’s “Geography of Hope”sums up the thrust of this collec­ tion. The West provides a geography of hope, but we have failed to meet those hopes. Stegner concludes with Satan’s injunction, in Mark Twain’s The Mysteri­ ous Stranger, “Dream other dreams, and better.” This book can help us imagine what those other dreams should be. PAUL T. BRYANT Radford University No Pictures in My Grave. By Susan...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 63-64
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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