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Reviews 65 “Ah Coyote,” mumbled Li-Po, “Only the great drinkers have left us their names.” In Tantra XCVII, Gifford offers a poem which records the source of inspira­ tion for these tantras. As he and some friends are leaving a house in Brooklyn to drive to the airport in New York, they see a coyote “directly in front of the house, / his tongue hanging out, looking straight / at us, and grinning.” And this epiphany became these tantras. Both Coyote Tantras and Headwaters offer much to be learned and to be enjoyed. I will read them many times. KENNETH BREWER, Utah State University The Road. By Jack London. With an Introduction by King Hendricks. (Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City: Peregrine Publishers, Inc., 1970. xvi + 224 pages, photographs, $6.50.) The journey theme is one of the oldest and most familiar archetypes of western civilization. From Homer’s Odyssey to the writers of picaresque stories and on to novels such as Huckleberry Finn and Dr. Zhivago, the “road” motif has intrigued writers and readers. Hence, it is not surprising that this theme is also an important one in western American literature. Some of our earliest western writing emphasized travel into the unknown West. Later, Roughing It, Log of the Cowboy, and Honey in the Horn also invoked this familiar motif. Finally, a journey theme is an important part of recent western novels like The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, On the Road, North to Yesterday, and The White Man’s Road. Few American writers have been more interested in the road idea than Jack London. On some occasions in his writings, this theme indicates little more than physical activity. Other times, he marries the physical and metaphysical and manages to imply that movement for his protagonists is initiatory. That is, his heroes travel and see many things, and their experiences initiate them into adulthood or at least into an understanding of their world and themselves. The book under review is the product of two needs that frequently fueled London’s literary activity: his pleasure in spinning yams and his need for additional money for his mounting expenses. The Road is more the product of the latter urge than the former. Needing additional cash, as always, London whipped out a series of articles for Cosmopolitan (at \b4 per word) based on his tramp travels of the 1890s. Published in 1907, the book reflects the circumstances surrounding its creation. Sections of the book may stand alone, for they deal with individual experiences London had on the road. Collectively they reveal London’s reactions to what he saw and felt during his jaunts as a hobo, but there is no single theme that unites the book. It lacks unity, in fact, and London misses the opportunity to structure his book in such a way to communicate the maximum impact of his life on the 66 Western American Literature road. In several ways his manuscript diary on file at the Utah State University Library reveals more about London’s growing realization of the ways of the road than this book does. One wishes that London had taken the time to structure his narrative in order to make full use of the rich materials he had at hand. The Road, then, illustrates two aspects of London’s literary career. First, he catches the reader’s attention with his lively lingo (he introduces the full range of road vocabulary) and his ability to spin yarns about his months of riding the rods. Second, London, under the pressures of deadlines and his need for financial support, pays too little attention to the form of his book. This conflict between his narrative abilities and his willingness to pander his abilities for needed income is the central tension in London’s career. One wonders if London’s niche in the American literary pantheon might not have been higher if he had taken time to unite his narrative talents and his abilities to gather numerous interesting personal experiences. The present edition of The Road is available in both hardback and paperback from Peregrine Press. Prefaced with a helpful introduction by King Hendricks, an authority on London’s work, this volume introduces...


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