Prime Fathers

Frederick Feikema Manfred, Author Howe Brothers $15.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-935704-36-5
Manfred, the author of 25 books of fiction, nonfiction, short stories and poetry, here presents a series of essays, first published in the New Republic, the American Scholar et al. between 1943 and 1983, about his literary roots and evolution. He begins with warmhearted, casual reminiscences of his relationships with ``prime fathers'': his own indomitable pater, and also his friends, the energetic Hubert Humphrey and the intense, volatile Sinclair Lewis. Without losing his relaxed voice, Manfred moves into more intellectual territory with ``The Artist As the True Child of God,'' a defense of authors as ``ministers of light'' who are ``eager . . . to share . . . beauty and truth''; and with ``On Being a Western American Writer,'' a transcript of a speech about his literary beginnings and his goals for regional writing. ``West of the Mississippi,'' an interview conducted by the editors of Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, gathers Manfred's ideas on his muses and influences, and the relationship of the Western American writer to nature and to Native Americans, but it is more repetitive and wandering than Manfred's own essays. This entertaining, very readable collection forms a sharp portrait of an American writer and his vision, his passionate loyalty to the land, his friends and favorite books, and his honest distaste for ``the Eastern editor'' who ``keeps thinking we should talk and write like he does.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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