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This article is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

The Story of Opal Christopher Middleton

The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow. The Rediscovered Diary of Opal Whiteley, presented by Benjamin Hoff (New York, Ticknor & Fields, $16.95)


And after I did tell of how on many days in gray-light time I have had going on searches for the kisses of Angel Father, what he did tell me to keep watches for in the fleurs while he was away gone to the far lands.

The gray patches on gray rocks are lichens. My Angel Father said so. Lichen folks talk in gray tones. I think they do talk more when come winter days . . . Angel Father did show me the way to listen to lichen voices . . . I pipe on the flute to the wind what the lichens are saying
.


These two passages from The Story of Opal (edn. of 1920, pp. 122-3, 126) give a slight indication, no more, of the surprises in store for readers as yet unfamiliar with Opal Whiteley. Benjamin Hoff's book commends itself in various ways. It presents intact the text of Opal's astonishing 'diary', which has been out of print since 1921. The text was abridged by Jane Boulton a few years ago (Opal, Palo Alto, 1983), but that recension, fancied up as very free verse, omitted many important sections of the original. Benjamin Hoff, by profession an investigative reporter, has searched through a mass of unpublished and published documents and has written an ...


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