Meditations in Green (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Stephen Wright’s Meditations in Green was awarded the Maxwell Perkins Prize by Charles Scribner’s Sons; this prize is presented annually to the author of a first novel of exceptional promise. The prize is offered in commemoration of the work of Maxwell Perkins, editor for Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other Scribner authors. The novel receiving the prize must be concerned with the American experience.
The main character of Wright’s novel, James Griffin, is learning, after the trauma of the Vietnam War, “to meditate like a plant” (thus the title, Meditations in Green). The book is divided formally into fifteen numbered meditations, but there are many other flashbacks, episodes, and short vignettes that break up the narrative. These meditations range from descriptions of how to put together drugs, to lists of insects, to dazzling catalogs of images. The green of the plants which Griffin grows in boxes in his urban apartment is linked with the green of the Vietnamese jungles, the army uniforms, even the icing on the cakes which are prepared for celebrations in the army camp. Griffin is haunted by his vivid memories of the war, and the insanity and brutality of his experience in Vietnam are communicated to the reader with painful immediacy. At the same time, the author deliberately uses images of film and cameras, he even presents actual events as potential film scenarios, in order to stress the...
(The entire section is 1944 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
America. CXLIX, November 5, 1983, p. 276.
Christian Science Monitor. November 4, 1983, p. B10.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. November 3, 1983, p. 32.
Newsweek. CII, October 3, 1983, p. 90.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXII, August 12, 1983, p. 54.
Saturday Review. IX, December, 1983, p. 61.
The Wall Street Journal. October 13, 1983, p. 26.
(The entire section is 37 words.)