The Adventure of Mao on the Long March
Is this a novel? Does it capture for the reader more about Mao’s Long March—or about the literary scene in the U.S. during the nineteen-sixties and early seventies? This is a reprint of a work that appeared first as part of a “box-sculpture” among “stamps, seals… lithographs…” at a time when “young people believed the Revolution was at the gate.” Yes, Mao takes his march. He breaks through the Nationalist cordons against impossible odds in a very encyclopedic style. But he also has poetic leaps, interviews with a journalist and visions where Greta Garbo, dressed in red worker’s coveralls, presents him with a tank in good working order covered with peonies and laurels. Spliced in between are passages written in the style of Faulkner and Hemingway, quotes from Jack London and Herman Melville on “Roman Statuary,” lots of esoteric discussions on art, the purpose of art, and telling us that “art is bogus fabrication.” Interesting, in a self-conscious Sixties sort of way. The source notes at the end are the best help.