An Appointment with Somerset Maugham: And Other Literary Encounters

Richard Hauer Costa, Author Texas A&M University Press $18.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-89096-619-8
In defiance of fashionable critical theories, Costa (Edmund Wilson: Our Neighbor from Talcottville) refuses to isolate literature from life, so his loosely knit collection of essays interweaves scholarship and memoirs and is frequently more anecdotal than analytical. Focusing on those writers who were ``pattern makers'' in his personal and professional development, he begins with a reverential section on Maugham; then turns to sometimes problematic literary relationships; devotes part three to comments on such comic writers as Kingsley Amis and Dorothy Parker; and concludes with reflections on several antiheroes in recent fiction. Costa is certainly aware of trendy criticism: His analysis of Joseph Heller's Something Happened incorporates the ideas of Bakhtin, and the essay titled ``The Anxiety of Confluence'' displays more than a nodding acquaintance with Harold Bloom. Nevertheless, he presents himself as a ``plain reader'' rather than an academic specialist. By his own admission, he is sometimes pretentious in accounts of meetings with Maugham and other literary greats, but such excess may result from his determination to rescue books and their authors from over-eager deconstructionists and neohistoricists. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Hardcover - 248 pages - 978-0-89096-618-1
Open Ebook - 229 pages - 978-0-585-17396-2
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!