are equally irrelevant, equally misguided,nequally shabby.nBut if Bell’s talent and temperamentnimpel him to choose the loner asnprotagonist, the present book alsonshows him as reaching out to broadnconcerns. He has not yet learned hownto fill a large canvas, but he is one ofnthe most gifted young novelists writing.nWith one kind of intense achievementnbehind him, he appears ready to striventoward a larger one. Soldier’s Joy,nthough it fails, is a serious and necessarynpart of that attempt.nFred Chappell, a prolific poet andnnovelist, is the author most recently ofnBrighten the Corner Where You Aren(St. Martin’s).nThe Houdini ofnTalcottvillenby Chilton Williamson, Jr.nNear the Magician: A Memoir ofnMy Father, Edmund Wilsonnby Rosalind Baker WilsonnNew York: Grove Weidenfeld;n287 pp., $18.95nThere are three ways in which thenword “magician” may be appliednto the critic and author Edmund Wilson:nin his relationship to the printednword, in his relationships with women,nand, more literally, as a straightforwardnreference to the fact of his having beenna lifelong student and practitioner ofn”magical” tricks. All three senses of thenterm are met with and explored in thisnmemoir by his daughter, and indeed allnthree are shown to be not just inseparablenbut closely intertwined.nThis is an interesting, generous, dignified,ntouching, and finally rather sadnbook by a woman who, without complaining,nnevertheless suggests by indirectionna life — her own — scorednstrongly by loneliness and disappointment.nRosalind Baker Wilson was bornnin 1923 to Mary Blair, the distinguishednactress and first wife of Edmund Wilson.nAlthough the couple was marriednseven years, they remained separatednduring the last five of these: “The onlyntimes I ever saw my parents together,”nMiss Wilson writes, “were during thenfew minutes they visited when hendropped me off at her apartment [innNew York City].” The child Rosalindnhad been delivered in her maternalngrandmother’s house in Red Bank,nNew Jersey, and went on living therenfor most of her childhood. “I stayed innRed Bank because my mother becamentubercular; my grandmother felt,n’Rosalind is my child.’ For the nextntwenty-eight years, my father was toncome down to Red Bank almost everynweekend and sometimes for longer periodsnof time to see his mother and menuntil I went out on my own, and evennthen we still met in Red Bank. I spentnthe summer months with him; betweennhis marriages to Mary McCarthy andnMargaret Canby, it was he and I alonenduring those months.” And then, in ansingle paragraph’s jump: “His trainednnurse and I were with him when hendied on June 12, 1972, in his mother’snfamily house ,in the hamlet of Talcottville,ntown of Layden, county of Lewis,nin upper New York State.”nIn his eariy middle age, EdmundnWilson suffered a nervous breakdownnand spent time in a sanitarium, wherenhe thought that a pencil was writingnaway for him all by itself Afterward anpsychiatrist told Miss Blair that he had anmother complex and ought never tonmarry anyone. Even after the psychobabblenhas been discounted, the biographicalnfact is that Wilson did indeednhave a peculiar relationship with hisnmother (he was an only child) thatnlasted throughout her—and his—life:na relationship that was further complicatednby the fact of his father’s havingnleft everything to Helen Mather KimballnWilson, who doled money to hernson when and in whatever amount shenthought he required it — the when andnwhat being frequently determined in hisnmother’s mind by her evaluation of herngranddaughter’s needs. The frustrationsnattended — and produced—by thesenarrangements must often have seemednnearly intolerable to Rosalind’s father;nwho, the daughter reports, reserved hisnworst scenes (with the possible exceptionnof those he and his third wife, MissnMcCarthy, collaborated on) for his visitsnto Red Bank, where a room of his ownnand iced bottles of ginger ale wereninvariably maintained and where henwould lecture his mother on her allegednNew in the John Gould Fletcher SeriesnJohn Gould FletchernandnSouthern Modernismnby Lucas CarpenternIn this fascinating study, Carpenter argues that the prevailingntendency to view Fletcher as an Imagist turned Fugitive-Agrariannpigeonholes the poet too neatly, obscuring the complexity and overallncontinuity that characterize his poetry.nInstead, Carpenter considers Fletcher an essentially Southern poetnthroughout his entire career. He was, in fact, the first Southern poet tonimmerse himself in the cauldron of literary modernism and emerge asnthe prototype of the Southem modernist writer.n$25.00 clothnAvailable at fine bookstores or direct fivmnS^ ARKANSASnThe University of Arkansas Pressn1-800-525-1823nnnFayetteville 72701nAPRIL 1990/37n