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Dread (hardcover)

Robert Steiner

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Price: U.S. $19.95
Robert Steiner
Dread (hardcover)
Series No.: x NAF 11
ISBN: 978-1557130174, Pages: 188
American Literature, Fiction

A Sun & Moon title.

* * *

"Professor of literature at the University of Colorado, Robert Steiner (Bathers, Passion, Quill) has created an elliptical and dreamlike story that is as haunting and disturbing as it is elusive. Divided in two parts, Dread begins with 'Not Keller,' the story of a pair of couples traveling in Europe and the Middle East. Hilly, the wife of the narrator, leaves him for Keller, a mysterious man in a bathing suit encountered on a cruise ship. The narrator finds himself bound to the loathsome Keller in a semi-paralyzed search for Hilly, who seems to have left Keller and gone native in Cairo.... The second half of the story, 'Keller,' is told in the first person of a character named Keller, but is it the same man, or is it our first narrator in another mode? (And is Keller a killer, or are we meant to think of kell as in caul?) Mirroring the first section, 'Keller' offers an alternate text, and can be read in a number of ways. Like Roth's The Counterlife, this novel challenges by taking repeated advantage of the reader's willingness to suspend disbelief."

--Publishers Weekly

Also by Robert Steiner:
Dread [Sun & Moon], $14.95
The Catastrophe [Sun & Moon], $14.95

Book Review(s)

BOOKLIST, June 1, 1994

by Pat Monaghan

"Book Review"

The subtitle’s referent may escape casual readers. It proclaims this anthology’s lineage, connecting it to the important and influential New American Poetry edited by Donald Allen and published in 1960. So doing, it makes an ambitious claim, for Allen's collection enlarged both critical and popular visions of American poetry to encompass the Beats, the Black Mountain School, and other then unconventional voices. Like his esteemed predecessor, editor Messerli emphasizes noncanonical (but often influential) poets: Carl Rakosi, Jack Spicer, John Wieners, Ron Silliman, John Cage, Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Leslie Scalapino. Messerli’s four “groupings” of poets are made to show connections that drive beneath the hackneyed ones. Neither form nor style, neither theme nor content informs the groupings. Rather, Messerli groups according to more mysterious and organic relations. Poets concerned with myth and social issues; poets who focus on issues of self; poets who emphasize language and the reader; and finally, poets of the voice and performance—these are his four families. This hefty volume will certainly flesh out collections light in experimental poetics.


by Staff

"Book Review"

Bigger than the Bangkok telephone book, this anthology of poetry from the U.S. and Canada testifies to the proliferation of experimental writing in the last several decades. It joins two recent collections, Paul Hoover’s Postmodern American Poetry (Norton, 1994) and Eliot Weinberger’s American Poetry Since 1950 (Marsilio, 1993); all three want to be for the present what Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry (Grove, 1960) was for the ’60s. A strength of Messerli’s book: he offers space enough to each poet, so that readers can trace developing poetic concerns, beginning with the Objectivists. The anthology’s first poem is Charles Reznikoff’s “Children,” a Holocaust piece, and much of what follows can be thought of as exploded fragments and tentative gatherings assembled from the wreckage of modernity. Nowhere is the alternately hopeful, tragic and inchoate postmodern condition better represented than in the blank pages that are the late John Cage’s contribution—a performative silence that is the subtext of many another poem here, where words are, well, just words, and also worlds, and all over the place. One regrets certain exclusions—August Kleinzahler, Clayton Eshleman—and there are nine or 10 poets we could probably do without, who seem merely fashionable beside the powerful work of Susan Howe or Bernadette Mayer. But thanks are due, too, for the inclusion of writers who usually do not receive the attention they deserve even from avant-garde communities—John Taggart, for instance. (July)


by Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin University, Decatur, IL

"Book Review"

In the tradition of Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry (1960), a single volume that defined American poetry for nearly 40 years, “language” poet and editor Douglas Messerli tries to assemble a definitive collection of contemporary American and Canadian poetry. And he succeeds admirably, even though the resultant tome numbers over 1100 pages (because of his desire to print a representative number of poems for each author). He organizes the anthology by dividing the poetry into four thematic “gatherings”: (1) cultural-mythic poets, including Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, and Allen Ginsberg; (2) urban poets, including Barbara Guest, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Ted Berrigan; (3) language poets, including Robert Creeley and Charles Bernstein; and (4) performance poets, including John Cage and Jerome Rothenberg. Messerli highlights 81 poets altogether, saying in his introduction that the book will serve as a “travelguide to send readers scurrying.” Highly recommended for all larger collections.

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