Tuesday, September 07, 2010


The Field of Vision, Wright Morris, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1956, 251 pp

The National Book Award winner for 1957 was a challenging read. The entire story, such as it is, takes place during a bullfight in Mexico. I have yet to read a bullfight story I liked. Most of the book consists of flashbacks concerning the people involved in the life of a man names McKee. For the entire first half of it, I was not completely sure who anyone was.

 Each character is a variation on eccentricity and most of them live in Omaha, Nebraska, though off the beaten path of mainstream American life. Some of them have sparks of being gifted, whether as an artist or a frontiersman, except for McKee himself who is a dud trying to make sense of all these oddballs.

 The bullfight and arena (the field of vision) are meant to be symbolic. The theme seemed to me to be something about the banality of America. Wright Morris claims that he wrote the book to show that "the range and nature of the plains imagination...contains elements that are peculiarly American...There, mirrored in the bullring, a group of touring plainsmen see, for the first time, the drama of their tangled lives."

 I am grateful he explained that on the jacket flap because otherwise I would have missed it. I did not enjoy reading this book.

(If, after my underwhelming review, you would like to read The Field of Vision, it is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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