The Sewanee Review begins with twenty pages of “Current Books in Review” written succinctly about both authors and their current books, making these introductory pages informative and entertaining.
Of the three stories in this issue, two have plots which revolve around horses. My favorite, Andrew Plattner’s “Runaway,” is about a middle-aged jockey’s trials on the track and with men. Helen, the jockey, is plainspoken and sympathetic, and by the end of the story even someone who doesn’t know anything about horseracing will be caught up in her world.
The narrator in Daniel Hoffman’s “The Soul’s Domicile,” confronted with a dying lover, meditates on past memories with her and questions the nature of the soul: “Everybody knows / What you mean by it, / But who has, or lives in, one? / As though the soul’s the house then, / Not the tenant / Who outlives the lease.”
Joseph Harrison’s poem also reminisces about someone dead, asking in a new way the always pertinent question of how someone so full of life can now be gone: “Can one so measured when he took the floor / With death itself, and danced that sarabande / With breathtaking aplomb / At tempi fitted to the chilling score, / Really have stopped?”
This issue contains two essays: Robert Buffington’s “The Tates, Ford, and the House of Fiction” and Eugene Goodheart’s “The Jewish Writer in America.” The latter essay compares and contrasts Jewish writers as diverse as Bellow, Malamud, Kazin, and Roth. Despite their differences, Goodheart argues that Jewish writers more firmly established themselves in America than in any European country: “The Jewish writers in other countries tend to be isolated, or in the fashionable word, alienated. None of these countries opens its arms to ethnic minorities in the way America does.” Goodheart attributes this difference to the “particular character of [America’s] democracy.” The author is able to emphasize America’s contemporary acceptance of Jewish writers while not dismissing their past struggles.
As always, The Sewanee Review provides excellent, varied writing. Their selections of poetry and fiction were so superb that I wish there were more selections from these genres.