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Mutual Impressions: Writers from the Americas Reading One Another Paperback – December 13, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This exquisite collection of literary criticism, assembled by Stavans (Growing Up Latino, etc.), offers beautifully rendered pieces by and about the most distinguished writers from the Americas. Perhaps more importantly, Stavans has shrewdly--and originally--arranged these essays as a dialogue between English-speaking North and Latin America, so that the book as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In the first grouping of 19 essays--all of which are translated from Spanish--we cover ground ranging from Derek Walcott's assessment of V.S. Naipaul ("Victims are now as articulate as their oppressors") to Hiber Conteris's appreciation of Raymond Chandler ("[Philip Marlowe has] a moderate set of virtues and weaknesses that are commonly found in human beings"). In the next 15 essays, North American writers such as John Updike, John Barth and Grace Paley pay respects to their literary "neighbors," including Teresa de la Parra, Pablo Neruda and Ernesto Sabato. The absence of female viewpoints in the first section is not an editorial oversight, but rather an indication of the deep cultural barriers to women's expression in many areas of Latin America. North American readers may be struck by their ignorance about the tradition of Latin American writers: some names are familiar but many are not. Perhaps in anticipation of this fact, many of the North American writers here spend more time educating their readers about their subjects than their South American colleagues do. Overall, the work of Jorge Luis Borges is perhaps the strongest presence across both sets of writers. He appears as both focus and influential figure in many subtly, imaginatively intellectual and gently philosophical writings. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This anthology probes literary connections between North and South American authors. Stavans (Spanish, Amherst Coll.) has collected previously published essays by significant authors from and writing about the Americas. Each essay begins with a biography of the author that includes details of their friendships, mentors, and influences. Among the 68 contributors are Jorge Luis Borges (writing on Nathaniel Hawthorne) Mario Vargas Llosa (on Ernest Hemingway), Pablo Neruda (on Robert Frost), Mark Strand (on Nicanor Parra), Robert Bly (on Pablo Neruda), and Susan Sontag (on Machado de Assis). They discuss the interrelatedness and impact of the literatures on each other. Some essays are more accessible than others. Readers encountering these essays for the first time will be inspired, no doubt, to read the bodies of literature represented here. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
-Sue Samson, Univ. of Montana Lib., Missoula
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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