As the title suggests, these are excerpts from Stein's epic novel, long out of print. Few people other than Stein scholars have read it, though it has enjoyed a word-of-mouth reputation. (It was shown in manuscript form to favored guests of the Stein-Toklas abode for years; biannual, marathon readings of the book are still held on New Year's Day in a Soho gallery.) The novel follows the Dehnings and the Herslands, two families of remarkably different backgrounds yoked together by a marriage. But plot isn't what Stein is about. She attempts here to describe ``everyone who ever was or is or will be living.'' Her prose isn't so much tiresome as numbing; but looking beyond the nearly psychedelic repetition and rambling turns of phrase, one finds moments of artful humor and genuine insight. Though perhaps 80% of the text has been cut in this version, the author's inimitable style is maintained. Sorensen writes in the appendix: ``I tried to make among all the books that might be made from sentences in The Making of Americans , the one I most wanted to read myself. (You, you should make your own.)'' A prescription that would be fairer if an unabridged version were available--and if the original were easier to slog through. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994 Release date: 01/01/1994 Genre:
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