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76 WesternAmerican Literature and Isaac Bear (1883-1954). This places a stress on the level of detail, on texture, and on personal style, yet these are obscured by their fictional render­ ing. Though the reader is told that it rests on first person accounts, neither the content nor context of those accounts is clear. Who told which part of the story? In what words? When? To whom? In the chapters based on these accounts, warriors are “stalwart”and eyes are “liquid.” Later chapters improve, but still lack the attribution to be read as history. Since history is what the book claims to provide, the reader is caught in a contradiction between aim and means. Custer’s fall from icon to embarrassment is, historically, a done deal. The lasting value of this book must lie in its ability to convey a chosen event in human context, and here it suffers, mostly for technical reasons. Yet even with its liabilities in style, SoldiersFallingInto Campis aworthy project. In it the reader senses the realms persistently excluded, but not erased, from the national memory. C. L. RAWLINS Boulder, Wyoming In SearchofLiterary L.A. ByLionel Rolfe. (Los Angeles: California Classics Books, 1991. 180 pages, $11.95.) This collection of journalistic essays is an expansion of Rolfe’s earlier Literary L.A. It may be seen as a companion volume to the recently published Sagebrush Bohemian, a biography of Mark Twain in California and Nevada written byNigey Lennon, Rolfe’swife. Both books argue thatwestern bohemian life has long been the dynamic engine of our country’s literaryculture, and they share an edgy populist hostility to eastern attitudes and academic criticism. For Rolfe (as for Lennon) there is a continuity of west-coast literary bohemianism, from MarkTwain’s day, to the coffee-house scene of the ’50s and ’60s, to present-day bohemians like Charles Bukowski (whose photograph is on the cover). Hollywood writers, as we would expect, are celebrated by Rolfe; also sojourners like Malcolm Lowry, lesser known figures such as Louis Adamic, and local patrons and publishers. Rolfe himself is a figure in many of these essays, tracking down the houses writers like the young RobinsonJeffers once lived in, interviewing scholars at UCLA or USC, reminiscing with coffee house owners and booksellers. For much of his life, in fact, the author has been an observer of the city’s evolving bohemian scene. As son of pianist Yaltah Menuhin, he experienced, as a child, the European expatriate life of the city during the Second World War, and can weave memories of—for example—Thomas Mann into his discussion of those years. Later, as a young journalist, he sampled the atmosphere of Reviews 11 radical bookstores, jazz, and Beat poetry. In the best of these essays Rolfe emerges as a passionate collector of fact and gossip, a nostalgic bohemian with an engaging affection for such out-of-the-way corners of southern California as Newhall and Saugus. The book’s anti-scholarly approach does have limits, however. When Rolfe uses printed sources they are sometimes out of date or discredited, so that he innocently mentions Jack London’s alleged suicide, as if that canard had not been refuted long ago. The physical production of the book is also poor, with many typographical errors, and a binding so flimsy that the book fell apart as I read it. CHARLES L. CROW Bowling Green State University And the Viewfrom the Shore. Literary Traditions ofHawaii. By Stephen H. Sumida. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. 330 pages, $30.00.) Stephen Sumida’s And the Viewfrom theShorecomes to us at a fortuitous and volatile point in American history. In the book’s incisive commentary on the much chronicled time when and since Hawaii entered western history with its so-called discovery by Captain James Cook in 1778, it parallels the activity surrounding the Columbus Quincentennial—the commemoration of his “dis­ covery” of the Americas. In this light, this book could not have come out at a better time—when the voices of indigenous and other non-white peoples are finally receiving national attention. Sumida offers an eye-opening reading of the historical, social, political, linguistic, and literary contexts and texts of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 76-77
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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