|About the Book|
The danger, I found out so long ago and once upon a time when I was a college student, with reading good literary criticism is that the critics perspective can all to easily blur/slant your own reading of a work of literature. His vision becomes your vision,especially if he is a stronger reader than you are. After all,a book length literary critique is normally the result of years of intense work by an intelligent reader (with or on the way to a PhD) who has devoted much serious time to focus on a particular authors work.Therefore,the critic can marshal his forces so as to present a cogent, formidable and overwhelming interpretation of a particular work or works by an author.Over a period of years, beginning in 1973 or so, Ive read most of Gardners work, The Sunlight Dialogues(twice),October Light(twice),Grendel,Mickelssons Ghosts,Freddys Book(currently),The Kings Indian,Nickel Mountain,On Becoming a Novelist, The Art of Fiction(three or four times),and The Forms of Fiction.Obviously I like Gardner.I purposely avoided reading critical books on Gardner,for the aforementioned reasons.....until now. I loved Gardner and didnt want to be swayed by others.It had been decades since Id read much Gardner...and then, suddenly (who knows the dictates or whims of a readers wandering heart?) decided to reread the main works and as much of the secondary sources as I could. Thus...this review of Butts book...apparently one of the early book length studies of Gardner.I like it!!! It led me to a deeper understanding and appreciation for Gardners craft and does a neat job of explicating the connections between Gardners fictional work and his somewhat pugnacious view of what makes for good novel writing as delineated in his nonfictional books on the writers craft. Butts proposes that the main characters in much of Gardners fiction embody Gardners (at one time controversial) view of the artists role in our world...to mitigate against a creeping nihilism born of a clear and unblinking recognition or encounter with the brutal law of entropy. Here is Butts writing in the preface to his study of Gardner: A close reading of each of Gardners protagonists as artists reveals much about Gardners thematic concerns and the values he believes can survive the entropy that pervades our lives and the lives of his characters. Butts then proceeds to take the reader through Gardners major works...doing exactly this. Pretty neat stuff! Butts enhanced my rereading of Gardner. Im no doctoral student...just a reader. 4 stars for Leonard Butts.