Nat(han Irving) Hentoff Diane G. Stavn - Essay

Diane G. Stavn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[I'm Really Dragged but Nothing Gets Me Down is an] episodic story in which believable, sincere, intelligent and philosophically opposed characters discuss their differences, don't resolve them, and are left with nagging frustration and a sense of solitude. High school senior Jeremy Wolf wishes he were sufficiently emancipated to smoke pot, sufficiently courageous and zealous to resist the draft, and enough of a soul brother to be able to get through to a kid in a tutorial program. While despising himself for his inability to live up to his image of the totally committed man, he scorns his father for his materialistic, don't-rock-the-boat concerns. Sam Wolf, contemplating his possibly forthcoming prosperous man's heart attack, recalls his own youthful revolutionary activities and secretly admires his son's spunk while worrying about the impractical decisions he might make. Though they glower at each other across the generation gap, father and son are closer than they realize: Jeremy finally chooses draft counseling over jail and Sam flails out against the Vietnamese war, to the chagrin of his firmly Establishment brother-in-law…. [The] extensive dialogues constitute confrontations between young and old, black and white, dove and hawk, head and straight opinion in America today. This relevance gives the book its value and at the same time flaws it—for readers may easily find themselves being persuaded from side to side in a series of editorials and losing track of the minimal plot and story.

Diane G. Stavn, in her review of "I'm Really Dragged but Nothing Gets Me Down," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the November, 1968 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1968), Vol. 15, No. 3, November, 1968, p. 96.