As anyone familiar with anv of Crews’rn(jthcr work (including the lucraticrnRandom House Handbook, which is atrnonce gloriously funny and extremely usefulrnand practical) knows, all of it is highlyrnintelligeut, wonderfully sane, oftenrn’cr witty, frcquenth subtle, and sometimesrnright on the memorable and aphoristicrnmonc: “Throughout most of thernpre ions decade, sexual and religious aspirationrnhad been a single blur for Updike.rnBut nobody’s adolescence can lastrnforeycr.”rnMainly, as the title promises, thisrnbook is a critique of contemporary academicrncritics of yarious kinds, their actsrnand ways being set against the backgroundrnof attack and counterattack onrnthe brutal battlefields of “our currentlyrnpolarized academy.” Creyys presentsrnhimself as something of a moderate,rnstanding between those he calls the NewrnAmericanists (defined by “connectionrnto our historic national shames—slaycry,rn’hidian rcmoyal,’ aggressive expansion,rnimperialism, and so forth—and torncurrent struggles for equal social opportunity”)rnand those he names as “culturalrnnostalgies,” yvho are “people whornconceive of the ideal university as a pantheonrnfor the presentation of great worksrnand great ideas.” Moderate as he mayrnbe, especially when compared to spaceagernsavages like Jane Tompkins, FrankrnLcntricchia, and Saevan Bercovitch,rnCrews cleady leans more toward the cultrnof the politically correct than that of thern”conscrvati e Jeremiahs”; and he sharesrnan number of common attitudes popularlyrnheld among prominent NewrnAmericanists, simply taking for granted,rnfor example, that it is accurate to definernthe historic Deep South as an “old blendrnof ileness and aristocratic pretense.”rnNot surprisingly he finds i’om Sawyer tornbe demonstrably “haunted by violence,rnfear, guilt, sadism, and suggestions ofrnunicrsal egotism and cowardice.” OfrnIIcmingwa he argues: “What Ilemingwa-rnneeds is an ideal reader who canrndiscard everything that is meretriciousrnin our image of him but then do justicernto the literary art that remains.” And, arnlittle farther along, he adds: “To arrivernat that vulnerable and exacting artist,rnwc must first learn to forgo the Hemingwayrnlegend.” Hemingway is seen asrnKing, “bloodthirstv,” and impotent—rn”Hemingway evidently fancied an unclimacticrnfondling that evoked infantilernpassix’itv and gender confusion.” Evenrnworse, there seems to be something tornthe suspicion that he was sometimesrnanti-Semitic and homophobic. Or,rnanyway, some of his central characters,rnwhom Crews assumes, when he pleases,rnto be mouthpieces for the author,rnare so discovered to be depicted. SimilarKrnwe have to eomc to terms with “thernegregiousness of Riulkncr’s sexism andrnracism.”rnCrews’ best essay may be his titlernpiece on Flannery O’Connor, if only forrnhis persuasive account of O’Connor asrna child of the Iowa Writers’ Workshoprnand the New Criticism. “A evnic mightrnsay, then,” he writes, “that in lionizingrnO’Connor the American university hasrnnot so much acknowledged a literary geniusrnas bestowed a posthumous laurelrnon its most diligent student.” AndrnCrews cannot be faulted for pointingrnout that her great achievement comesrnchiefly through “the perfecting of a singlernhard-edged mode.” But someonernwho can casually write, as he does in anrnearlier essay, about “the most politicallyrnconservative concept of sin,” someonernwho views the “explicitly Christian expansionrnof sympath}” in “The ArtificialrnNigger” as “a regressive political act,”rncannot be taken as a completely justrnauthority in his appraisals of eitherrnCatholic (O’Connor) or Protestant (Hpdike)rnfaith. Crews seems to have minimalrnsympathy for or understanding ofrnChristianity except as a matter of intellectualrnhistory, a diminishing part of thernembattled canon.rnBut there is much about The CriticsrnBear It Away that ma be v’aluable, andrnnot merel)’ Crews’ insights (and therernare plenty), nor, indeed, the genuinernpleasures of his writing in general andrndetail, nor, for that matter, his seriousrnarguments for sensible moderation, arnquality surely and sorely needed in Englishrndepartments everywhere. Onernconsiderable service is that he freelyrnquotes and paraphrases the argumentsrnand outrageous statements of some ofrnthe leading figures among the NewrnAmericanists, thus leading the readerrndirectly to the happy conclusion thatrnwe need not waste any more preciousrntime and energy reading any more ofrntheir efforts. We may consider Crews anrnadvocate and mediator in this matterrn(not our onlv one, but at least a worthyrnwitness); and we can return to the originalrntexts, Twain and Hemingway andrnEiulkner and O’Connor and Updike andrnall the others in the sure and certainrnhope that we need no Neyv Americanistrncritic to guide us to our own destination.rnGeorge Garrett is Henry HoynsrnProfessor of English at the Universitv ofrnVirginia. His most recent book isrnWliistling in the Dark (Harcourt Bracern]ovanovich).rnGerald Who?rnby Bill KauffmanrnMemories of the FordrnAdministrationrnby John UpdikernNew York: Alfred A. Knopfrn369 pp., $23.00rnSnaking out from the Middle Atlanticrnstates is a long distinguished line ofrnpolitical and literary Copperheads: MillardrnFillmore, Horatio Seymour, HaroldrnFrederic, Edmund Wilson, and thernPennsylvania duo of James Buchananrnand John Updike. I’hese men were certainlyrnnot pros]aver, but thcv did icwrnthe Union cause with rather more skepticismrnthan did their New Englandrnbrethren. As with Southerners, thc’ rememberrntheir dead: the anti-IjincolnrnNew York Go’ernor Seymour was memorializedrnyears later b noelist Frederic,rnyvho in turn was rediscovered b’ hisrncholeric fellow North Country patriotrnWilson. Likewise, Shillington, Penasylvania’srnUpdike dedicated a play,”BuchananrnDying” (1974), to the KeystonernState’s only President, the oft-deridedrnfailure “in the trembling shadow of thernCivil Wir.” With Memories of the FordrnAdministration, John Updike takes anotherrncrack at this doughface whose solernclaim to fame—his bachelorhood—hasrnof late won him the tag (from, amongrnothers, Penthouse) of “Anrerica’s first gayrnPresident.”rnThe novel’s queer title comes fromrnits character Alf Landon Clavton, a historyrninstructor at the all-girl, too-cutebv-rnhalf Wayward Junior College in arndreary New Hampshire industrial town.rnAlf is asked to provide “memories andrnimpressions” of Gerald R. Ford’s presidencyrnfor a scholarly journal; what hernwrites, instead, is a retrospective of hisrnAPRIL 1993/35rnrnrn