Richard (Cory) Kostelanetz Small Press Review - Essay

Small Press Review

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The End" Appendix and "The End" Essentials] is literally two books (in reversible format, front to back, and back to front) by the most perceptive watchdog of American publishing and writing, and one of the most articulate and persistent spokesmen for the experimental, the new and the young in contemporary American literature. It is sometimes irritable, often controversial and always articulate.

"The End" Appendix is an addendum to Kostelanetz's The End of Intelligent Writing, a book that stirred literary controversy for months after its publication. The End documents, after the fact, the difficulties the author had in publishing subsequent works, and analyses the causes of his ostracism by commercial publishers.

"The End" Essentials announces its argument. Kostelanetz's thesis is that "a panoply of growing forces and festering symptoms forecast the likely end of "intelligent writing" or "literature" as we have know those traditions. The reason for this crisis is not that such writing is no longer produced—quite the contrary is true—or that it is not read—also untrue—but that the channels of communication between the intelligent writer and intelligent reader have become clogged and corrupted." Kostelanetz uses history and an acute analysis of the current literary establishment to outline the answers to questions about how a writer is "recognized," why certain tendencies dominate in writing, or appear to, and to define the nature and sources of "literary power." Two powerful and controversial books—critical reading for any writer or reader concerned with the state of contemporary letters.

A review of "'The End' 'Appendix and The End' Essentials," in Small Press Review (© 1980 by Dustbooks), Vol. 12, No. 2, February, 1980, p. 8.