Lost Culture

Lost Culture

The Red Atlantis:
Communist Culture in Absence of Communism
by J. Hoberman
Temple University Press, 1999 304 pp $34.95

Joe Wood had a voice as deep as a doublebass, and he spoke as he wrote: low, slowly, softly. He forced you to listen attentively to each of his words, pausing gravely as if to prepare you for the next one. When I first met Joe, I thought this was an affectation. Before long, however, I realized it was a style, the outward mark of a sensibility, artful but true. And with this style, Joe had a look, one that gave him away instantly. The big, bookish glasses. The Malcolm X cap, worn with urbane nonchalance. The knapsack filled to capacity with literature. The bemused, vaguely world-weary expression that sometimes broke into a wide, astonished smile.

I am trying to remember these details because we are not likely to see them—him—again. On July 8, Joe, a thirty-four-year-old writer and editor, visited Mount Rainier in Seattle to go bird-watching for the day. He never came back. During an exhaustive search that eerily coincided with the latest Kennedy family tragedy, forest rangers failed to come up with any physical evidence of Joe’s whereabouts. They suspect that he fell from a snowbridge. His body is believed to be buried in the snow or hidden in some ravine.