`Coyote in the Maze'
Edited by Peter QuigleyUniversity of Utah; $19.95.
If you are a self-respecting admirer of the late Ed Abbey, you have to squirm over the proposition: This is an anthology of literary criticism inspired, writes Quigley, "by the wholesale dismissal of Edward Abbey in the arena of `serious' scholarship."
In other words, Abbey's environmental writings have been overlooked by scholars of American literature, and Quigley intends to save the day.
Here then is a collection of essays with titles such as "The Politics of Leisure: `Industrial Tourism' in Edward Abbey's `Desert Solitaire' "; "Nietzschean Themes in the Works of Edward Abbey"; "Edward Abbey's Inadvertent Postmodernism: Theory, Autobiography and Politics"; and Quigley's own contribution, "The Politics and Aesthetics of a Hopeful Anarchism: Edward Abbey's Postmodern `Angelic Demonology.' "
We wish you luck and intellectual satiety. Quigley teaches at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. Ariz.
- Anne Stephenson
(The Arizona Republic)
`Making All Things New'
By Henri J.M. Nouwen
HarperCollins; 95 pages; $16.
The late Henri J.M. Nouwen, a Catholic priest, was one of the finest inspirational writers of our time.
The reason is simple.
He kept things simple.
In this little volume he leads readers down the straight-and-narrow path to spirituality in the 1990s. His insights are crisp and clear. One should first find God by centering oneself on God, Nouwen says, then move out into the world and find God in the community around us.
He offers several ideas on how to proceed. (They are the oldest ideas in the book - The Good Book.)
We make everything so complicated and difficult, Nouwen says. But finding spirituality in the '90s is not a twisting, torturous quest - the kind of test that would bedevil Hercules.
It is a simple process involving honesty, faith and surrender.
And with a guide like Nouwen, the path is well-marked and lighted.
- Jerry Johnston
By Milan Kundera
Translated by Linda Asher
HarperFlamingo; 168 pages; $23.
An expatriate Czech novelist who now calls himself Franco-Czech, Milan Kundera in recent works has flouted every convention of fiction. In "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Laughable Loves" and "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting," Kundera made his own rules of character and narration. In his slim new novel, "Identity," Kundera reprises his familiar pattern. Shattered literary convention lies around in pieces; still, the book has intelligence and suspense.
As always with this intensely intelligent writer, Kundera is doing more than telling another love story. Though Kundera has wonderful fun with the ironies and contradictions and delusions of love and of lovers, I infer that he does believe in love, at least in its real power and capacity to impart vitality and vigor. And his way of imagining himself into the minds of women in a state of love and desire is remarkable, and, to this male reader at least, convincing.
- David Mehegan,
(The Boston Globe)