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This review is taken from PN Review 21, Volume 8 Number 1, September - October 1981.

RK, OK Richard Kostelanetz, 'The End' Essentials/Appendix (Assembling Press, New York) $5.95

In this book, Richard Kostelanetz, self-styled avant-gardist, attacks the forces which, in his view, presage the end of 'intelligent writing' in contemporary America: the 'New York literary mob', the 'literary-industrial complex' represented by the larger American trade publishers, and 'the illiteracy of the intellectuals'. The ad hominem nature of his attack obscured critical discussion of it in America; from a more detached English perspective, however, we can make the essential point. Kostelanetz cannot speak for 'intelligent writing' because, in this book at least, he does not practise it, and hardly seems to know what it might be. His main hopes for such writing are based upon his bland, irresponsible assertion that young people in America today are better educated, more literate, and more creative than ever before. For example: 'in spite of the low quality of typical American television programming, the tube nevertheless serves to accelerate the informational and emotional development of nearly all American youngsters'. Such a statement-it is characteristic-exemplifies what Kostelanetz claims to be resisting: the end of intelligent writing.

Inverting 'The End' Essentials, we find, bound back-to-back with it, instant commentary in the form of 'The End' Appendix: 125 pages of letters, reviews, interviews, and so on, all about 'The End' Essentials- or, more precisely, all about Richard Kostelanetz. The whole production adds up to an entertaining portrait of an adroit self-publicist. With my copy came a large sheet announcing 'RK EDITIONS . . . the name of the newliterary- artistic press that is ...


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