THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9,'1921
Clearly he knows something of what ard of "Nocturne" are two of the
he is discussing. The book is not the outstanding figures in English fiction
ooks A nd A utho afar the men who fall under his criti- In "Nocturne"Swierton has come
cism. The author is "inside," and the very near to writing that theoretical-
"ERIK DORN which, jumhled together apparently opinions which he voices are free ly possible thing, a perfect novel.
(By R. D. S.) haphazard, create a pattern as coru- from the pettiness of political ran- Perhaps indeed he set too high. a
Several years ago Ben Hecht wrote scant and as varied as an orgy of cour.
ashort story entitled 'Life' in, whichpytehiscur standard for himself, for the two fol-
a sotsoy ette Lf'i hc pyrotechnics. There is but one danger in reading lowing novels, "Shops and Houses"
he drew a cynical analogy between Hecht is never trite, he is often the b skbht we sall acceptias an "Sot appoach
the lice swarming across a beggar's brilliant, always sophisticated. His the book-that we shall accept as and "September," did not approach
head and fe herds, of ignorant for- constant straining to avoid the hack- gospel the opinions of its author. True, the earlier book. Nor does "Co-
haantehedoigoatfrcosatsringoavdthhck they are formed, apparently, with ut- quette," his. lateat novel, although
eigners endlessly pushing through the neyed is a bit obvious, but his book te artiality, bu t t mut aw - wieton's exquste arty ga
ghetostees.Onefidsmuh heshos srog.cotinntl nfuece ter impartiality, but it must always Swinnerton's exquisite artistry is ap-
ghetto streets. One finds much the shows a strong, continental influence, be remembered that they are still the parent throughout.
same view of life, a chaotic, aimless a broadmindedness and a profundity opinions of bhut a single man. ButtwhI"Coquette"t(Dhra
pattern, in Hecht's first novel, 'Erik that one seldom finds in an American But, while "Coquette" (Doran), as
Dorn,' which has recently been pub- novel. There is a real literary value in the a whole falls short, the portrayal of
lished by Putnam's. "THE MIRRORS OF DOWNING book, besides the interest which it Sally Minto, the heroine, ranks close
Designs of city buildings, a kaleido- STREET" ; possesses in its trenchant criticism. to that of Emmy and Jenny of "Noc-
scopic vignette of moving life, clashes Occasionally, from the varied eulo- Clearly the author is a man who is turne." Sally, too, is a London shop
of sound, the irregularity and discon- gistic and derogatory journalistic im- no mean "hack." He is possessed of girl, young, foolish yet worldly wise,
nection of human contacts-these pressions of the great satesmen of our all of the finer instincts for style, and fiightly. yet resolutely set toward a
form the background of this unusual day comes comment, written in the the result is a work which is really definite goal. Her thoughts run, very
novel. Hecht depicts on a small scale sobriety and calm of disinterested far above the commonplace in books naturally, to two things-clothes and
what Wasserman does in 'The World's patriotism which, through its varied of its sort, boys. fet neither are ends in them-
Illusion'-the incoordination of people nature is valuable as a document of - selves, merely means to a very impor-
and events. real interest. Such is "The Mirors COQUETTE tant end. Power is what she seeks,
In the fore, blending chamelon-like of Downing Street" written annony- and she is naively unmoral in her
with the evershifting background, is mously, and containing thirteen strik- (By It D. S.) pursuit. This power first becomes
Erik Dorn, a metropolitan newspaper ingly keen sketches of the men who There are but few contemporary pqsonified to her in the physical dons-
editor who, as one of his friends point- have guided the fortunes of England novelists who possess the artistic nation of Toby, a husky lout of the
edly remarks, is 'the kind of a man before and during the war. ability of Frank Swinnerton. To him neighborhood. Next she is lured by
who knows too damn much and don't The author of the work prefers to belongs the unusual faculty of throw- the financial power embodied in the
believe anything.' His conversation style himself simply as a "gentleman ing realism under the soft glow of stammering, foppish, weakling son of
is a mixture of iconoclastic epigrams with a duster," attempting, as it were, romance, of sustaining an atmosphere her employer.
and smart sounding nonsense. His to remove the dust from themirrors of radiance or melancholy, of writ- The result is a fairly unique twist
life is unordered and unmoral. He of' Downing Street, that the statesmen ing in a lucid prose style that reads to the familiar, triangle, concluding
wanders through the book, endlessly whom he characterizes may have the like poetry. But it is not upon their rather vaguely with a weak attempt
chattering, endlessly tasting of ex- opportunity of seeing themselves as rich musical diction alone that his at symbolism and a melodramatic
perience, always apparently unaware others see them. That the book is novels stand;. they display a pene- strewing about of the dead and dying
of where his next step will lead him. interesting, the rather astounding trating comprehension of human na- members of the triumvirate. There is
Nothing seems to change him funda- popularity which it has had on both ture that is little short of astonish- the pathos of futility - the depres-
mentally; citie$ are salesrooms of sides of the Atlantic will bear easy ing. sion of hopelessness. The charm of
adventure, people are instruments witness -that it is worth while, a Swinnerton has been at his best a vivid character creation and the in-
upon whom to experiment with yvords glance between its covers and a per- in the creation of the Loudon shop terest of well conceited episodes are'
and acts, words are colored blocks usal of a few of the sketches which it girl protagonist. As one of his fem- there. But the rounded-out unity of
to build up conversation with. In the contains will prove. inine admirers puts it, "His portrayal "Nocturne" is missing. On the whole
end he returns almost to where he The author is something of an icon- of a woman's emotions is positively it is amediocre work of a first rate
started, seemingly having neither lost oclast, yet he does not strike down uncanny." Jenny and Emmy Blanch- novelist.
nor gained. ruthlessly the greatest of England's
The book is heterodox, episodic, and statesmen. He simply shows them
confused in effect. Hecht writes in for what they are. Looking at the
a disjointed, expressionistic style, al- idols with a clairvoyant eye, he strips,
ways suggesting rather than describ- them of' their outward splender to "At the Sign o the Flyirg Bee"
ing. He handles mass effects roughly bare all the little faults and virtues
in jerky, unpredicated sentences of their characters.
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