In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 69 such as The Moon Is Down, Burning Bright, and East of Eden. He has less to say about other works that is at all new, and I confess myself unable to understand his criteria for deciding which Steinbeck works are “successes” or “failures.” What can he mean, moreover, in saying that “Steinbeck’s tendency to philosophize seriously mars” the “otherwise . . . highly important” To a God Unknown, when that book could not exist without its serious philosophizing? I do not think he understands the ending of The Winter of Our Discontent, but few of Steinbeck’s critics seem to anyway. And he acknowledges relatively little prior critical effort. Quibble and cavil. Astro’s study ends with a tight and fine summation of the reciprocal relationship between the two men, and in the process brings to a close a necessary volume of the rapily-expanding shelf of Steinbeck criticism. JOHN DITSKY, University of Windsor Frank Waters by Thomas T. Lyon. (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973, 166 pp., $5.50) Professor Lyon’s book is a solid, carefully reasoned study, offering a precise assessment of Frank Waters’ place in American letters. Acknowledging the uneven quality of Waters’ novels, Lyon asserts nonetheless that “in the portrayal of the West itself, Waters is unrivaled,” and a study of his work “will inevitably call in to question the deepest assumptions of Western civilization” (p. 154). Professor Lyon argues persuasively that Waters has one unwavering theme, “the progressive move­ ment toward union of opposites,” and he articulates an important point about Waters’ work: ultimately Waters is concerned with creating a personal credo, an amalgamation of nuclear physics, orientalia and Pueblo mysticism, most pro­ grammatically expressed in The Woman at Otowi Crossing, but discussed in the earlier non-fiction as well. Like Robinson Jeffers, Waters sees something oriental, primitive, archaic, and sacramental in the mysteries of the atom. Lyon also suggests a justification for Waters’ place in American Indian Litera­ ture. His discussion of Waters’ boyhood and, later, of March Cable’s parents in Pike’s Peak — the enigmatic part-Cheyenne father and the strong, silent mother — stresses the importance of Waters’ relationship with his parents .as a source of his need to deal with the problem of white/Indian consciousness. Waters’ child­ hood outfitted him well for his journey to Taos, to Pumpkin Seed Point, to the jungles of Yucatan, and into the psyche of the West, both Anglo and Indian. Lyon refutes the charge that Waters is a reactionary romantic, an evangelist for the noble savage. Leslie Fielder’s dismissal of The Man Who Killed the Deer, in The Return of the Vanishing American, ignores the tension in the novel between the beauty of the past and the inevitability of change. Waters has a clear sense of that inevitability, and even advocates that change, seeing Indian and Anglo as polarities requiring fusion. As Lyon says in his discussion of Book of the Hopi, in Waters’ eyes the Hopi are not the world’s last great hope, not the good alterna­ tive to the excesses of white culture, but “representatives of all of us” (p. 61). 70 Western American Literature Although Lyon’s book is a useful introduction to Waters’ ideas, there are some things regrettably missing. The bibliography includes no reference to Waters’ work as a screenwriter and no list of his output as a government employee. And Lyon’s description of Waters’ “urge to documentary, statistical thoroughness” (p. 152) ignores some basic questions about his unorthodox literary methods. While Waters is thorough, he is often inaccurate in details, particularly in The Colorado. Ques­ tions of accuracy have been raised about the Indian books, and criticism has come from some respectable sources. It is frustrating and sad to see Frank Waters, only recently a solitary exponent of unromanticized appreciation of the depth and greatness of Southwestern Indian culture, with his place in Indian studies threatened even as he gains recognition among white readers; but the fact remains that questions raised about the reliability of his informants and scholarship and about the propriety of his conclusions should be answered. Another common criticism of Waters’ books, which Lyon treats only in a passing reference to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 69-70
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.