Review: Ever hear of Seymour Krim? I never had either. Rarely do I read every word of the essays that I review. I read every word of this one.
Americans dream the American dream and, for many of us, it ends with failure. That is the sum and substance of this essay.
Quote: “Our secret is that we still have an epic longing to be more than what we are, to multiply ourselves, to integrate all the identities and action-fantasies we have experienced, above all, to keep experimenting with our lives all the way to forest Lawn to see how much we can make real out of the prolific American dream machine within.”
Quote: “What it comes down to is that the America of the pioneer has b en made subjective by us. The endless rolling back of the frontier goes on within our heads all the time. We are updated Daniel Boones of American inner-space. Each of our lives, for those of us in this country-wide fraternity, seems to us a novel or a play or a movie in itself, draining our energy but then at other moments lifting us up to spectacular highs, yet always moving. The big wagon-trains of great new possibilities always crushing on. The fact that all of this is private doesn’t make it any less real.”
Quote: “I know for a fact that I wanted to become a novelist in my teens just so that I could be all these different personalities and events that it was physically impossible for me to be any other way.”
Quote: “That is what this democracy was for us, a huge supermarket of mass man where we could take a piece here and a piece there to make our personalities for ourselves instead of putting up with what was given at the beginning.”
Quote: “Yet each one of us sooner or later gets the elbow that reminds us that the ‘real world’ we have postponed making a deal with…has been evaluating us with a different set of standards than the ones we have been applying to ourselves.”
To be continued.
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.