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B o o k r e v i e w s 221 exception is Las Vegas, without pretension to spiritual or intellectual values or even “manufactured individualism,” which has prospered precisely because it is bogus—so genuinely bogus that other gambling resorts have to imitate it (344)- Rothman is far more severe on ecotourism, which, he says, is in fact indistinguishable from other forms of tourism despite the fact that “someone defined it for [greenish tourists] in a manner that affirmed their beliefs” even though their effect on physical and social environments was no different from that of the crassest skier in Aspen (340). Readers used to literary criticism, even the most tangled, will find Rothman’s book heavy going. For one thing, he repeats even minor points (e.g., Las Vegas casino workers make middle-class wages in blue-collar jobs) so often that the book could be 10 or 20 percent shorter, resulting in a great sav­ ing in paper and the reader’s patience; for another, the process of change from wild beauty to condoization is depressingly similar in all cases except that of Las Vegas so that the reader wants to page ahead to the climax. But Rothman’s point is that there isn’t any climax, and though he men­ tions a number of names and outlines various take-over processes, he has little sense of drama. This, he says, is the New West, and the few writers he cites are reduced to laments or grumbles. Of course, writers since Wister have argued that the real West is over, but he and thousands of others kept writing about it. Anyone who writes about the West that Rothman portrays isn’t going to be able to write about the brave nester who stands up against the cattle baron or the bank (even though, as in Shane, cattle made a lot more sense than sub­ sistence farming) because he has no weapons and there is no altruistic gunfighter . Any story that comes out of Rothman’s findings will be more southern than western—masters in the big house, the hands in the field, and the only underground railway leading not to Canada and freedom but to cities where older community values, dead at the point of origin, cannot be sustained. The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings. By Richard Brautigan. Intro, by Keith Abbott. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. 124 pages, $12.00. Reviewed by Tom Hillard University of Nevada, Reno “When I become rich and famous, Edna, this will be your social security,” said a young Richard Brautigan to Edna Webster in 1956, handing her a pile of manuscript pages (ix). Webster was the mother of Brautigan’s best friend, and her daughter was his first love. But at age twenty-one, the young poet had decided to leave Eugene, Oregon, for San Francisco, hoping to make it as a writer. As a farewell, Brautigan gave Mrs. Webster all the poems and stories he had written so far. Thankfully for us readers, she kept them. Now, more than forty years later, after Brautigan’s international stardom in the 1960s and 2 2 2 WAL 3 5 .1 SUMMER 2 0 0 0 untimely death in 1984, these manuscripts have finally come to light. “Discovered” by a collector, then arranged and edited, those early poems and stories are now The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings. This slender new volume by the perplexing author of Trout Fishing in America (1967) is indispensable for Brautigan fans. Not only is it the first “new” Brautigan book in well over a decade, but it also covers material from his earliest years, a period which until now has been largely a mystery even to his closest friends. He simply never spoke or wrote about his childhood, save for cryptic and often dark allusions. Though much of this new volume is uneven and is obviously the work of an inexperienced writer, it does reflect the style of Brautigan’s later work. For example, we see the brief, often abrupt haiku-like poems that grace his later books. However, many poems are trite and obviously the work of a love-struck adolescent, such...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 221-222
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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