cover image The Edge of the Night: A Confession

The Edge of the Night: A Confession

Frank Lentricchia. Random House (NY), $21 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43072-8

Lentricchia ( After the New Criticism ) here mixes autobiography, literary criticism, stream-of-consciousness prose and seemingly everything else that touches his agile mind. The result, while interesting to jaded theorists, may be indigestible for the average reader. It is hard to care, for example, how many times Lentricchia, while traveling in Ireland, checked the trunk of his car to see if his manuscript had been stolen--this is not The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. His brief religious retreat with the chicken farming Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina loses some of its depth when the reader realizes the stay was a matter of days and that Lentricchia swiftly asks for a transfer to another abbey because he must listen to ``a bass with a tin ear'' in chapel. (Request refused.) This brief autobiographical ramble strains much too hard to be noticed; and in the process, we lose sight of who the author, in his full dimensions, may really be. (Feb.)