Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



W.S.Merwin, Summer Doorways: A Memoir: When one door opens, another opens ... whether prospectively or retrospectively. The jacket art is more accurate than the publisher blurb, which misplaces the trip to Europe in '48 rather than '49 (added his age to year of birth, looks like -- but we'll cut S&H some slack, since they're bringing out the rest of Don Barthelme's stories this fall), and which is only half the book. The opening, set on a Norwegian freighter bound for Genoa, is a doorway leading back to what led him there: an unintended door opening into Princeton, when he added its name to the College Entrance Examination because he'd heard his parents mention it, though they'd meant the Presbyterian theological seminary there; a recommendation from a newfound friend there led to tutoring sons of Old Money, despite that contingent being largely absent from Princeton at the time (WW II), and so to the European sojourn. But these just trace the main passage; many other thresholds are crossed. The prose is opulentelegant, tightly controlled but fluid; events, only the latter. Much the same could be said of Merwin's other writings, I s'pose.


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