Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting the lady, I particularly enjoy the reviews of Carolyn See and would like to see a collection of those reviews turned into a book. She must be a very stimulating person to be with. She has a special style all her own. I have often read a review without noting the byline and knew after a few paragraphs that it had to be Carolyn See. Yet, despite her distinctive style, which displays wit, elegance of expression and a wealth of background knowledge, each review has a flavor of its own, dictated no doubt by the subject-matter. She is sometimes wryly critical of a writer, but never mean, and always helps him or her out with some good advice, if they have the wit to take it.
G. MERLE BERGMAN
Critiquing a Critique
In her rough dismissal of Carolyn Doty's "What She Told Him" (Book Review, Feb. 3), reviewer Doris Grumbach oddly measures the work against premises appropriate to 19th-Century romanticism, complaining that Doty's novel is "synthetic rather than organic," and cares nothing for "natural parts . . . natural richness." For more than a century (Schlegel, Proust, etc.), the organic metaphor, with its pleasurably mystifying sense of coherence and wholeness, has been under attack by a literature that calls attention to the artifice of its own and our condition. Yet, this well-established modernist critique seems lost on Grumbach, who frets that "Instead of expanding with a fine and natural richness, (the novel's narrative elements) contract upon their own artificiality." Doty's novel, in fact, carefully investigates the complexity of artifice in the culture and the psyche: Grumbach's 19th-Century organic metaphor is one of its targets, not its touchstone.
An Artistic Request
In connection with a forthcoming catalogue raisonne of the oils, watercolors and drawings of Egon Schiele, owners of the artist's work in all media are invited to contact me. Upon request, owners' identities will be kept strictly confidential.
The Galerie St. Etienne
24 West 57th St.
New York, N.Y. 10019
The Greatest Thing Since . . .
I am writing to congratulate you on the inclusion of Dale Pollock's review of "Baby Snatcher" (Feb. 10) by Susan Terris. Your recognition that fine writing and superb storytelling deserve respect and can be enjoyed by adults as well as young adults is the best thing that has ever happened to Book Review. I hope you will continue to accord that same recognition to other fine young adult books--Book Review and Los Angeles readers will benefit if you do.