Brief Note on Foley's "Visions"

I'm nearly done with Volume 1. No doubt I will finish this & read the second, even longer tome. It's a bit of an odd book, and that's not a criticism. The subject matter hardly lends itself to a narrative history. Foley wants to review ALL the poetry (& some art) that was centered in California from 1940 to 2005. Even the uninitiated will be able to imagine the range and variety of this task. For someone like me, learning this history in any detail for the first time, there is I am quite sure, nothing remotely comparable. I really can't put it down. The text is fragmented and choppy as befits the subject. I enjoy that - and the uneven treatments of the various events and people. Two things do slightly annoy which are perhaps worth mentioning. The typesetting is inelegant and I do wish someone had cleaned it up a bit. Second, and I must say it doesn't annoy me as much as it ought to, Foley lifts sections, sometimes quite long ones, right out of Wikipedia. Somehow that seems appropriate given the non-academic thrust of this whole project and of the lives of most of the people it chronicles. But the point I want to make is that I am terribly grateful to Foley for undertaking this enormous task. As a survey and overview it is, for me at least, just what was needed. It occurs to me as I write that it has something of the feel of that first Whole Earth catalog that opened up new worlds for me many years ago. I am learning a great deal. It is an encyclopedia that I will read and refer to for a long time I think.


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