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Crux: The Letters of James Dickey Hardcover – October 26, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (October 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375404198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375404191
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,612,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dickey's indefatigable editor and friend, and senior compiler of his letters, Bruccoli "disapproved of his conduct and celebrated his genius." Whatever that conduct was, it rarely emerges from these letters. Dickey (1923-1997) "deliberately promoted and exaggerated his several reputationsAgenius, drinker, woodsman, athleteAuntil the legends took over after [the novel] Deliverance." Not a biography in letters, Crux is, after the early family letters, some later ones to a son and to (or about) his second wife, a selected professional correspondence. When Dickey's first wife dies, in October 1976, and he remarries two months later, we are greeted by a gap from August 1976 to August 1977. What we do have, however, are pages of literary politics, self-seeking, currying favor and attacking writers unworthy of his good words. Nabokov is "tiresome and disgusting... with a built-in intellectual smirk." Frost is "that super-jerk." If all poetry, he says, were like that of Wallace Stevens, "I would have no interest in the subject." Anne Sexton is derided for "continual pushiness." John Hollander is "a literary pimp and time-server." Robert Lowell, whom Dickey will butter up later, is "just another example of the brilliant, pampered American poet who spends the rest of his life, after the initial success, trying to progress and keeps falling down and down." Despite some praise of contemporaries and some steadfast loyalties, Dickey is largely a sour novice. Pathos enters when his second wife becomes "all but comatose with cocaine and heroin," and he struggles to write amid "a maelstrom of misfortunes." The letters end abruptly with a friend's funeral and Dickey's warmth of feeling toward him, but the personality evoked by the letters is generally unlovely. 20 b&w photographs not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The late Dickey's drunken public antics, his braggadocio about his athletic prowess, and his violence-filled second marriage are the stuff of legend by now. Yet Dickey's letters reveal a man consumed by his passion for language and life. Editors Bruccoli and Baughman (coeditors of the letters of Nabokov and Fitzgerald) here collect about 20 percent of the late poet's known correspondence. The collection traces Dickey's career from his undergraduate years at Vanderbilt to his final days in Litchfield Beach, SC, where he wrote every day ensconced in a castle of books. In letters to correspondents like Ezra Pound, Robert Penn Warren, Anne Sexton, James Wright, and others, Dickey doggedly and keenly discusses the role of the poet in the modern world, the nature of modern poetry, and the function of literary criticism. Dickey's letters give us a glimpse into his mind and writing that no biography will ever be able to do. These letters are part of a steadily rising flood of material about Dickey, and large public libraries and academic libraries will certainly want to own them.AHenry L. Carrigan, formerly with Westerville P.L., OH
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on December 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
First off, a disclaimer: I knew Dickey personally toward the end of his life. I met him once (in 1991) and talked to him on the phone every now and again after that. He was out of sorts much of the time, and not much of a conversationalist. But occassionally he would be on the upswing and revert to his old self. He loved the title of my first, unpublished novel, Seamarks, and used to always tell me "I'm on yo' side son!"-So, I suppose all this biases me, though I'm not sure in which direction, because I haven't sorted out my feelings toward this great man of letters, old enough to be my father or grandfather, who encouraged my efforts as a literary artist during the past decade. I truly don't like that this book was published, as is, so soon after his death. It doesn't take the shrewdest person in the world to figure out that the editors were trying to capitalize on his death while he was still fresh in the ground. I don't know how they selected which letters to publish. But I don't like whatever methods they employed. The letters just don't cohere like they should.-It seems to me, truth be told, that there wasn't much method or forethought; more a rush to publish what looked passable as a chronological sequence of some of his correspondence.-Such is the posthumous fate of a great artist. I made it a point to get to know Dickey because I thought, and still think, him to be the last truly geat poet alive. It just happened that he lived in Columbia, a two hour drive from my native Greenville.-Dickey was the last poet that I know of in the tradition of the visionaries of the early 19th Century. Though he would deny this at times, his son's memoir has him comparing himself to Shelley just before his death.Read more ›
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Matthew Bruccoli and Judith Baughman edit Crux: The Letters Of James Dickey, an excellent autobiography which provides a rich collection of works from 1943-1997. Dickey's extensive letters to literary correspondents from John Berryman to Ezra Pound and Anne Sexton are gathered together in a presentation recommended for any with an interest in Dickey's varied works.
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