cover image The Coast of California

The Coast of California

Tom Killion / Author David R. Godine Publisher $40 (0p) ISBN 9

The wood and linoleum cuts in this expanded version of a limited edition published in 1979 by the author's own Quail Press are the strong point of the volume. Undulant or serrated, dark or bright, the craggy, enveloping textures and colors of Killion's prints evoke the magnificent tangle of the California coastline. Uninhabited wilds urge forth his best work: abstract swaths of mountain, sky and cloud clasped by water and marsh in a four-color harmony; the simplicity of a few dark fish thrashing. The San Francisco skyline is rendered only conventionally, though, and the melodrama of a storm at sea does not exceed the sum of its whitecaps. Killion's unfocused vision of the Sausalito dock is even more crammed with strokes of the knife than with pilings and boats. His captions are unnecessary, telling what the pictures show. His long poem, Glacial Mist , meanders fecklessly and fatuously through California's natural history (``Slowly the magma oozes from the depths / the unfrozen cold of the abyss''). Still, Killion's eye for landscape can be powerfully sympathetic. (Nov.)