cover image Outside Stories, 1987-1991

Outside Stories, 1987-1991

Eliot Weinberger. New Directions Publishing Corporation, $10.95 (177pp) ISBN 978-0-8112-1221-2

In his second collection of essays, Weinberger, best known for his translations of Octavio Paz, attempts to unite past and present, near and far: ``To write the poem that had never been, a place to begin was the people who were not us.'' Stretching Poundian tradition to its outer limits, this erudite collection reads like a course in comparative religion; even Weinberger's remarks on translating (``a translation is based on the dissolution of the self'') bear parallels to the Eastern religions discussed in other pieces. Of particular interest is an essay on James Jesus Angleton, member of the London literati set that included Pound, Eliot and H.D., and the CIA counter-intelligence chief, in which Weinberger draws connections between theories of espionage and New Criticism. The further he gets from his area of expertise, however, the more far-fetched Weinberger's hypotheses become (as when he suggests the furor over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses was staged by various governments for their own covert uses). Fascinating at first, such theories quickly pale; one suspects Weinberger of using the tricks of tabloid journalism. Because at other times he employs a deliberate tongue-in-cheek tone, it's difficult to know how to respond to some of his more outlandish concepts. (Oct.)