Brian Murray

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Telling Stories Out of School

It was E.G. Wodehouse, I think, who once told an anxious would-be writer of fiction that literary success was the result of careful adherence to a few very simple rules. Find a desk, Wodehouse suggested, and stock its drawers with

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Ez and Old VORT

Among Wyndham Lewis’ nearly 50 books are found such classics as Time and Western Man (1927) and the novels Tarr (1918), The Apes of God (1930), and The Revenge For Love (1937). But at the time of his death in

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Flightless Bird

Many see in Kurt Vonnegut a menace to society. Since the late 1960’s, parents’ groups and school boards in several states have launched drives to keep Slaughterhouse Five and other Vonnegut novels out of libraries and off syllabi.

Other observers

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The Lure of Youth

In the early 1920’s, Wyndham Lewis began to discern the makings of a trend. Virtually everywhere he looked—and particularly in novels, newspapers, and magazines—Lewis found writing that retailed the wonders of childishness, precocity, and primitive energy; that implied, too, that

Embarrassment of Riches
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Embarrassment of Riches

“Semper inops quicumque cupit”
(Whoever yearns is always poor)

—Claudian

During the 1950’s, an increasing number of middle Americans no longer took seriously the principle that honest work carefully performed is its own true reward. As the exhortative Vance

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Wet Cement

Iain Banks’s first novel invites comparison with the work of Ian McEwan. During the mid-1970’s, McEwan began to establish himself as one of Britain’s most successful writers of fiction. First Love, Last Rites—his first collection of short stories—sold unusually

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TRUTH in Green Trousers

When the young American poet Ezra Pound arrived in London in the autumn of 1908, he had considerably more on his mind than a tour of Westminster Abbey and a boat ride down the Thames. He was determined to become

Academic Anomie & Root-Canal Remedies
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Academic Anomie & Root-Canal Remedies

“Of skillfully constructed tales . . . there are very few American specimens.”
—Edgar Allan Poe

During the 1920’s and 30’s, it was possible for a talented young American author to earn a living publishing virtually nothing but short fiction.

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Cold Pricklies & Warm Fuzzies

Joyce Carol Oates: Last Days; E. P. Dutton; New York.

Joseph Campos-De Metro: The Slugger Heart & Other Stories; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego.

At 47, Joyce Carol Oates has to her credit more than 40 books,  including

The Mind of a Manichean
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The Mind of a Manichean

In 1980 Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. At the time he had been living in Berke­ley, California, for just over 20 years. But it is safe to say that until Milosz became a Nobel laureate,very few 

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Scandalizing Uncle Ez

Without doubt, Ezra Pound was a remarkable poet. His best verse is beautifully cadenced, delicately chiseled. Herbert Read described him as “an alchemist who transmuted the debased counters of our language into pure poetic metal. “deferentially. Eliot called him il

Red Hot Harlequin Romances
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Red Hot Harlequin Romances

Alice Walker: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego.

by Brian Murray

Alice Walker, not yet 40, has been publishing poetry and prose since the late 1960’s. But only in recent years has her