ends in the unmasking of the killer andrnhis forced eonfrontation with his ownrnmonstrous guilt. Another satisfyingrnmystery has been solved, another plotrnunraveled, and if it all seems a bit contrived,rnwe remember that this form allowsrnJames to flex her literary muscles inrnother, more edifying ways. The familiarrnframework provides James with a platformrnto mull over the degraded conditionrnof London’s lumpen proletariat,rnmade childish and repellent in part byrnthe misguided ministrations of the welfarernstate, capital punishment, revengernversus retribution, grievance and justice,rnfidelity and treachery, and the really bigrnquestion that always seems to be knockingrnabout in the minds of her characters:rnIs this all there is?rnSome will say James is doing nothingrnmore than using familiar imagery to bolsterrna genre that is essentially escapist,rnthat she is not making a Big Point, anyrnmore than George Lucas was when hernrecycled ancient mythology as high-techrnpulp fiction in his Star Wars movies.rnMaybe. At the same time, isn’t the exploitationrnof the popular form to largerrnand perhaps, in part, unselfeonsciousrnends precisely what the best storytellersrndo? 1 know nothing of James’s religiousrnconvictions, and there are times, especiallyrnin her 1986 A Taste for Death, whenrnthe religious images appear secondary torna pervasive and grim agnosticism. Still,rnChristian themes and images are a constantrnpart of her myster)’ fiction, particuladyrnin the Dalgliesh novels, and she hasrnover the years come back again and againrnto what should be by now familiar territoryrnto discerning readers.rnWayne Allensworth writes fromrnPurcellville, Virginia.rnBrief MentionsrnI Shared the Dream: The Pride,rnPassion and Politics of the First BlackrnWoman Senator From KentuckyrnBy Georgia Davis Powers (Far Hills, Newrn]ersev: New Horizon Press), 321 pp.,rn$25.95rn”She was ‘The Woman’ the press whisperedrnabout, with Dr. Martin LutherrnKing on that last tragic trip to Memphis,”rnreads the back-cover blurb in oversizerntype. No, not Irene Adler, but thern”first black woman senator from Kentucky.”rnGeorgia Powers has hnally comernforward and described her many trystsrnwith King, recounting how she tried tornclimb into the ambulance with the dyingrnKing but was told by Andy Young, “No,rnSenator, I don’t think you want to dornthat.” Unfortunately, this should alsornhave been the publisher’s response tornPowers’ attempt at autobiography, for dornwe really need to know about her firstrnmenstruation, the size of her “full chest,”rnhow she cheated on her first husband,rncheated on her second husband, andrnonce broke into the house of a couple sherncleaned for as a tccn in order to use theirrnbedroom to make love to her boyfriend?rnTrue, Powers was ahead of her time.rnWhen the homeowner discovered thatrnhe had Lolita instead of Hazel for arnhousecleaner. Powers threatened to accusernhim of sexual advances if he everrncomplained to her parents. And Powersrndoes occasionally unearth a gem, asrnwhen she remembers a particular phonernconversation between King and his legalrnad’isor Stanle Le’ison. Upon hangingrnup the phone. King was overhead muttering,rn”Cowardice asks, is it safe? Expediencyrnasks, is it political? Vanity asks, isrnit popular? But Conscience asks, is itrnright?” “Will ‘ou use that in our speeches?”rnasks Powers. “He smiled, ‘I will usernit when it is appropriate.’ I said, ‘M.L., isrnanything we do and say original?’ Hernreplied, ‘Originality comes only fromrnGod.'” But the preponderance of thisrnbook is rank self-promotion that ironicallyrntarnishes every individual and causernthat Powers has always championed. Forrndoes learning details of King’s adulteriesrnimprove our image of the man? Willrnhighlighting these “family values” of thernoriginal civil rights leaders help alleviaternthe plague of promiscuity ravaging thernblack family today? Powers has longrnbeen honored as a pioneering black feministrnwhose political accomplishmentsrnwon greater respect for women of allrnraces, but is stealing another woman’srnman, and doing so repeatedly, an act ofrn”respect,” of “female solidarity”? Is thisrnwhat “empowerment” really means?rn”After that first night [with King],” shernwrites, “I knew there was no going back.rnHow could I not seize the moment… nornmatter what the obstacles…. I have neverrnregretted being there with him.” Consciencerndoes indeed ask, “Is it right?”rnAnd King and Georgia Powers replied,rn”Who cares?”rn—Theodore PappasrnThirty-five Years of Newspaper Work:rnA Memoir. By H.L. Mencken. Editedrnby Fred Hobson, Vincent Fitzpatrick, andrnBradford Jacobs (Baltimore: Johns HopkinsrnUniversity Press), 390 pp., $34.95rnThis volume is the last substantial legacyrnprovided by the author’s will which, operatingrnon the principle of time-release,rnhas already resulted in the publication ofrnthe Diary of H.L. Mencken and the availabilityrnof many useful letters and papers.rnWhile Thirty-five Years adds little if anythingrnto what was already known ofrnMencken’s life, it does fill out stories andrnepisodes, and in general makes a superiorrnperiod-piece, less formalized but morerninformative than the Days trilogy. Arncase ma}’ be made, indeed, that periodwork,rnapart from philology, was whatrnMencken did best, as well as being thernmost lasting of his accomplishments. I lernwrote beautifully, with the smoothnessrnof hawser-rope coming off a winch; andrnhis prose, when freed from the rhetoricalrnhorsing-around of the essays, columnsrnand other opinion-pieces, is all the morernsupple, at the same time muscular andrnsmooth as silk. Although the book heldrnno surprises for this reader, I found myselfrnreading on, and on, without skipping,rnheld to the text as if on rails andrnpowered by the terrific momentum generatedrnby the writer himself. Thirty-fivernYears is vastly more interesting than thernundeservedly notorious Diary, and providesrna fitting supplement to My Life asrnAuthor and Editor, edited by JonathanrnYardley. Contrary to contemporary opinion,rnMencken’s most baleful influencernon the several generations of writers thatrnfollowed him stemmed not from hisrnbluntness on various tender topics, butrnrather from the apparent imitability ofrnhis absolutely inimitable style. In this regard,rnthe message of the last of his greatrnprojects to all young authors, and manyrnmature ones, is invaluable: Write well;rnand you will be read forever.rn—Chilton Williamson, ]r.rn36/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn