cover image Renderings


James Sallis. Black Heron Press, $10.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-930773-32-8

``The fiction of these pages, these scenes, these renderings? Half memory, half improvisation. Or the fiction of art itself, for it will not save us. hoping to lure into the net of these deft metaphors something besides (for this part is true) dying fish, dead loves, defalcations.'' Well. Sallis is a talented translator, critic and author of three Lew Griffin detective novels, but this experimental novel of a writer's life and loves is sadly cliched. Sallis seems to have adopted all the sterotyped trappings of literary fiction without really adding something of himself. He mentions various writers, but one that is mentioned frequently and tellingly is Blaise Cendrars--as is Cendrars's missing hand, perhaps a metaphor for the often mentioned complications of writing. Sallis incorporates all the difficulty and disjunctiveness of Cendrars but without the French author's wild inventiveness. For the most part, he relies on stock literary footage of undergrad angst (``The sky looms overhead like promises one should live up to. I read Dostoevski and wait for meals. Today, walking in the hills, I came across a grave site.'') and even decor (``On most of one wall I stapled news photos of torture and mass murders in Latin America.... The wall opposite was hung with color reproductions of surrealist paintings.'') (July)