Seven Rivers West (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Although Seven Rivers West is a blend of genres and styles, one of its most remarkable features is the evenness of the blend. The style does not lurch from one mode to another but maintains an even amalgam of humor, fantasy, and alert observation. The mixture gives rise to these general questions: What is the function and purpose of fiction? Is there a well-defined demarcation between fiction and nonfiction? Is the purpose of fiction to provide more fantasy—or entertainment—than nonfiction, and is its function to be selective, emphasizing some types of psychological motivation and omitting others, providing characters who are more “flat” than those in real life? Edward Hoagland’s novel is of special interest because he has written both fiction and nonfiction. He has published four novels, including Cat Man (1956), two serious travel books about Africa and British Columbia, and several collections of essays; Hoagland is amply experienced in both genres. In Seven Rivers West, he tries to blend the virtues of both into a single, humorous genre and style.
Hoagland largely succeeds. This is true because his novel is a historical reconstruction of another century, a period in time that has become a “fiction” from the point of view of the 1980’s. The past, it has been said, is a foreign country—and Seven Rivers...
(The entire section is 2194 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Best Sellers. XLVI, December, 1986, p. 328.
Booklist. LXXXII, July, 1986, p. 1562.
Chicago Tribune. September 17, 1986, V, p. 3.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, July 15, 1986, p. 1049.
Library Journal. CXI, August, 1986, p. 170.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, September 21, 1986, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXX, August 1, 1986, p. 68.
(The entire section is 38 words.)