Russell Edson

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Donald Hall

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Edson writes tiny short stories, which critics call prose poems mostly to let you know that they are crazy. (p. 100)

The typical Edson poem runs a page or a page and a half. It's fanciful, it's even funny—but this humor carries discomfort with it, like all serious humor. We may not wish to understand the fragility of our psychic borders, or that we partake of things outside ourselves, or that we may lose ourselves if we are not careful. Maybe we control nothing; if we control nothing with our egos, if we let go, perhaps we can recover an ancient self otherwise lost, or perceive a world never seen before.

Russell Edson's imagination is revolutionary. He explores a small territory, but it is unmapped land. He does adventurous spirit-work for all of us, recovering portions of the lost infant world for anyone who will follow him. (p. 102)

Donald Hall, in The Atlantic Monthly (copyright © 1977 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass.; reprinted with permission), October, 1977.

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Peter Schjeldahl