Evergreen Review Reader, 1967-1973
. Thunder's Mouth Press, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-56858-110-1
This second of a two-volume collection devoted to the literary journal that doubled as the house magazine of the Grove Press in the 1960s and '70s includes a dazzling array of writing, recalling an era when radical politics and experimental art seemingly affected every area of life. Rosset was sole editor of the Evergreen Review throughout its 15-year life, displaying an amazing range. Writers were drawn to his commitment; for famous writers, Evergreen also offered the opportunity to experiment, as evidenced here by a Tom Stoppard short story and poems from Pete Hamil and Tennessee Williams (this one a gem). The nonfiction includes an essay by Vivian Gornick, an interview with John Cassavetes and firsthand reports from Vietnam, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago and the Columbia University riots. In addition to fiction and plays, there is poetry by everyone from Karl Shapiro and Muriel Rukeyser to Baraka, Ginsberg and Bukowski. A broad range of international writers are represented, some who would go on to much greater fame: Jean Genet, Cesar Vallejo, Kenzaburo Oe, Vaclav Havel. Finally, there are reprints of key texts by Castro, Guevera and Malcolm X--and even Woody Allen's guerrilla satire, ""Diary of a Revolutionary."" Rosset consistently drew controversy--the Evergreen offices were bombed by anti-Castro militants in 1968, occupied by unionists and feminist activists in 1970 and even targeted by the CIA--but he never backed down. Rosset and his publications did get their due, however, when, in 1988, Grove and Evergreen were awarded the PEN biennial Publisher's Citation for fostering ""the freedom and dignity of artists."" This sprawling anthology clearly demonstrates that Evergreen's epoch-making achievement in literature justifies such recognition. (Feb.) FYI: Rosset is at the helm at the new cyberspace incarnation of the Evergreen Review, www.evergreenreview.com.
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999