WRITING FROM THE CENTER by Scott Russell Sanders. (Indiana University Press: $20; 216 pp.) Where is the center? Scott Sanders begins with his "home territory" in "Southern Indiana, in the watershed of the Ohio River." "The skies in my pages are filled with thunderstorms and red-tailed hawks . . . the woods are thick with grapevines and hickories." Begin in your back yard, he suggests: "We need a literature--as we need a culture--of inhabitation." He recommends a certain distance, or degree of complicity, from popular culture, technology and materialism. Focus on how much we all have in common, he warns, "Ethnic labels are especially dangerous. . . . " Academic life can be isolating; "being on campuses in such large numbers" can be dangerous "for ourselves, for our students and for literature." "I love words, yet I love the world more," Sanders writes. In this generous collection of essays, his need to speak to his readers, to cross the divide between writer and world, is accomplished.

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