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October 25, 1936 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1936-10-25

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

SUNDAY, OCT.

IN

THE

WORLD

OF

BOOKS

SKINNER,
Manners And Customs
Of Day Described In
A Gay Mood
EXCUSE IT PLEASE, a collection of
sketches by Cornelia Otis Skinner,
illustrated by O. Soglow. Dodd,I
Mead & Co., New York, $2.00.1

Coming To Ann Arbor

I1

If you're planning on hearing Cor-
nelia Otis Skinner next Wednesday
evening, and of course you are, here's
an item you won't want to miss.
Offhand, you might assume that
Miss Skinner's Well-known wit would
have some difficulty on the printed
page, without the assistance of her
sparkling personality. But Cornelia's
careless artistry seems almost as
adaptable to the typewriter as to the.
stage, and between the covers of
Excuse It Please is contained as ca-1
priciously hilarious a commentary on
the manners, customs and accessor-
ies of our day as ever will grace the
annals of our American literature.
The author starts off with a study
of the peculiar idiosyncracies of onei
of the most familiar and oft-ribbed,
of our institutions, the telephone op-
erator, with her maddening mis-
connections and delays, and her even
more maddening manner of passing!
it all off with a- slightly bored "Ex-E
cuse it please."
After the phone episode, we watch
Miss Skinner wend her troubled and
frustrated way through a series oft
adventures with horse shows, footballe
games, municipal officials with cigarsI
in one corner of their mouths ands
voices in the other, old school chums,i
skating rinks and encyclopedias. t
At the horse show she asks a sport-3
ing gentleman if he has seen "Idiot'st
Delight," and the sporting gentleman,t
who has a one-horse mind, inquiries1
who the owner is. Cornelia replies she c
doesn't know, but he's by Bob Sher-r
wood out of Lunt and Fontanne. I
At the city hall, whither the au-t
thor goes in order to register for theI
vote on prohibition' repeal, she findsi
herself forced to take a literacy test,r
consisting of reading and answering
such questions as "Francis Scott Keyc
wrote the Star-Spangled Banner.t
Who wrote the Star-Spangled Ban-t
ner?" The young man next to hert
glowers and covers his paper with af
blotter to prevent her from cheating.i
Her certificate of literacy she hasX
framed.
From here on Miss Skinner por-
trays herself groping and stumbling
blindly and helplessly through ar
world peopled with individuals of-
every classification who have one,
thing in common, an overwhelming
desire to pain and humiliate the au--t
thor. Artists ask her to pose be-
cause they "can't bear to paint pret-
ty women." Little girls at the ridingk
Inconveniences Of
Vacations Described
By Clarence Day
"When I went away for a vacation,c
which I don't any more, I was ap-
palled at the ridiculous inconveni-
ences of it. I have sometimes gone
to the Great Mother, Nature;ssome-
times to hotels. Well, the Great1
Mother is kind, it is said, to thec
birds and the beasts, the small furry
creatures, and even, of old, to thet
Indian. But I am no Indian; I amt
not even a small furry creature. I
disliked the Great Mother. She wast
damp; and far too fully of insects.
"And as for hotels,nthe man in the
next room always snored. And by
the time that I got used to this, and
got in with some gang, my vacation
was over and I had to turn around
and go home.
"I can get more for my money by
far from a book. For example, the
Oppenheim novels: there are a great
many of them, and, to read them is
almost like going on a series of tours.
A man and his whole family could
take six for the price of one pair of
boots. Instead of trying to find
some miserable mosquitoey hotel at
the seashore or an old farmer's farm-
house where the old farmer will hate
me on sight, and instead of packing
a trunk and running errands and
catching a train I go to a book-shop

and buy an Oppenheim novel. When
I go on a tour with him, I start off
so quickly and easily. I sit in my
armchair, I turn to the first page,
and it's like having a taxi at the
door-Here's your car, sir, all ready!'
The minute I read that first page I

Miss Cornelia Otis Skinner, daugh-
ter of the famous actor, Otis Skin-
ner, will be in Ann Arbor Thursday
evening as an Oratorical Association
speaker.
school point to her as she endeavours
to mount her horse and shout to the
world, "Oh look at the funny lady!"
Her old school-mate recalls the time
she received a mark of 3 on an alge-
bra exam (the 3 was for being pres-
ent) and the terrible looking lad she
brought to the May Prom.
The people she meets at "wrong"
parties, the only kind she ever goes
to, where everybody talks about eith-
er classical music, classical literature,
big business or art, address her with
such friendly and condescending re-
marks as "You act, don't you? I
think you're so clever to remember all
your lines." Greek hotel waiters drop
her dinner tray on the corridor floor,
the women at Wednesday matinees
always interrupt her speeches with
coughs and whisperings, hairdressers
remark casually what a lot of dand-
ruff she has and her escort at foot-
ball games slaps her on the back.
Each individual and convention comes
in for its proper share of the Skin-
ner sarcasm in retaliation.
No review of this volume would be
complete without a special notice to
that swell artist, O. Soglow, whose
bland ink-line sketches of goggle-eyed
horses and enthusiastic artists pre-
face each chapter. The author point-
ing a large revolver into the tele-
phone is the best of a classic group.
am off like a shot into a world where
things never stop happening. Mag-
nificent things! It's about as swift
a change as I could ask from jog-trot
daily life.
"On page two, I suddenly discover
that beautiful women surround me.!
Are they adventuresses? I cannot tell.
I must beware every minute. Every-
body is wary and suave, and they are.
all princes and diplomats. The at-
mosphere is heavy with the clashing
of powerful wills. Paid murderers and
spies are about. Hah! am I being
watched? The excitement soon gets
to a point where it goes to my head.
I find myself muttering thickly or
biting my lips-two things I never
do ordinarily and should not think of
doing. I may even give a hoarse
cry of rage as I sit in my armchair.
But I'm, not in my armchair. I am
on a terrace, alone, in the moon-
light. A beautiful woman (a reliable
one) comes swiftly toward me. Either
she is enormously rich or else I am,
but we don't think of that. We em-
brace each other. Hark! There is
the duke, busily muttering thickly.
How am I to reply to him? I decide
to give him a hoarse cry of rage. He
bites his lips at me. Someone else
shoots us both. All is over."
-From "After All" by Clarence Day.
Latest Books
From two to three dollars a book
you will pay,
You can read many more if you
do it this way -
To read it just once and lay it
away -
Read any of mine for five cents
a day -

PAUL ENGLE
The coming of Paul Engle to Ann Arbor next Wednesday
brings to the campus one of the best of the younger poets of our
language. Wt" 'merican Song was published two years ago,
the critics immediately recognized in it a poetic gift of unusual
proportions, a theme of importance to the contemporary world,
and especially a re-forming of modern techniques in a way to
bring the poetic realities of present day life within the compre-
hension of the average educated man.
Poetry in late years has tended to become unintelligible to the
average reader. This has been taken as a sign by the commentators
that the art is becoming increasingly decadent, and that it has lost
all meaning for the modern world. The cry has been that only
professional poets can understand modern poetry. Against such
contenation3 the poetry of Paul Engle gives welcome reassurances,
for, although his techniques are but one step removed from the
techniques of those poets whose meanings are undecipherable at
large, we are able to see at least faintly in that step the whole
evolving process from the traditional intelligibility of older poetry
to a new intelligibility more in conformity with the shadings of
thought demanded by our generation.
Perhaps Mr. Engle has somehow debased the ideas handed to
him by older writers. In American Song he definitely joined the
ranks of the Neo-Whitmanites, following the path already laid
down before him by Hart Crane and Archibald MacLeish. But
whereas Whitman himself was intent singing of an America full
of such mystical nebulae as camaraderie, democracy, and the elan
vital, Mr. Engle tries to make clear in his poetry the peculiar
relationships between man and environment on this continent in
an attempt to formulate the American as a distinct individual. To
achieve his end he hurls at the reader an unlimited number of
geographical place-names and repeated historical references.
In his latest book, Break the Heart's Anger, Paul Engle compares
with his mythical creature - this historical-environmentally-made
creature representing American life - similarly compounded crea-
tures representing the cultures of the old world. He attempts to
analyze the character of each country as if it were an individual.
He thus tried to make poetry from comparative ethnology and
to some extent he has succeeded. He might not have succeeded
had not intense nationalism been so much a reality today.
Paul Engle is still a very young man, and his poetry is often
irritating by reason of the seeming artificialities that come from
its many crudities and over-simplifications. Although he appears
to have communistic leanings, he is by no means a communistic poet.
He is not directly concerned with social or economic doctrines
at all. When the individual and his country become merged a
state-individual comes into being. Perhaps Mr. Engle can tell us
better than the politicians or the economists the meanings of
fascisms or communisms.

Hindus' 'Moscow

Truthful Description Of Russia

Russia.

waa .a aia as vaaa ua uv ..vx rl+v vaa ....r

MOSCOW SKIES by Maurice Hindus.
Random House: $2.75.
By JOSEPH S. MATTES
As a novelist Maurice Hindus de-
serves few accolades. His first at-
tempt at fiction, Moscow Skies falls
considerably short of being a first-
class novel; its story is too extensive,
has too many tangents to be suffi-
ciently developed in the space he has
allotted to it; its plot is too obviously
in an antiquated form.
But for at least one of its short-
comings as a novel I am thankful; in
having too much story to tell Hindus
has brought in a mass of representa-
tive Russians. We see them all at
their work and play, at their formid-
able and sometimes hopeless task of
fitting into the Russian scheme. For
this truthful and rather complete
portrayal of Russia, Moscow Skies
will be more popular with the polit-
ically-conscious reader. In it he will
find something of that elusive truth
about Russia.
Bernard Blackman, an American
journalist whose intellectual inter-
est in Russia brings him to the Soviet,
is the principal character.gHe arrives
in Moscow in 1929, during .the first
Five Year Plan, and finds quarters
in The House, an appartment housing
almost every type of Russian, former
nepmen, dyed-in-the-wool Commu-
nists, Soviet executives, laborers and
students, intellectuals and bourge-
oisie. Bernard falls in love with
Anna, wife of Andrey Belov, vice-
president of the Textile Trust. As a
sub-plot Petya, ardent young Com-
somol, marries bourgeois-born YelenaI

and nearly loses his membership in
1 the Young Communist League.
Hindus treats the Communists ade-
quately when he deals with them in
numbers. At mass meetings and as
chance acquaintances along the
streets the Bolsheviks are flesh and
blood; but the Bolsheviks that are
vital to the plot are not as well por-
trayed. They are stood up with their
ideology and left with their charac-
ter only partially explored.
Where Hindus excells is in his de-
velopment of skeptical Bolsheviks and
anti-Communists. The former Red
Army commander with whom Ber-
nard lives is an extraordinarily real
character; Misha and Volodya, for-
mer bourgeoisie who owned The
House previous to the Revolution, are
good; and so are the former nep-
men. It is on their suffering, suffer-
ing brought by the Revolution, that
Hindus dwells so much. The justice
of the Communist cause is somewhat
neglected and the reader is apt to
think Moscow Skies a little one-sided..
Probably the most intriguing de-
scription in Moscow Skies is when
Andrey goes to inspect the great Rus-
sian textile f actory which, despite
its finest and most-up-to-date equip-
ment, has an ever-growing rate of re-
jections. He ousts all executives but
one, whom he keeps only for his ex-
perience, holds mass meetings and
tolerates all the criticism that is of-
fered. Then by masterful speaking
and the aide of some ardent Bolshe-
viks in the audience, he wins the ap-
proval of the town-and with every-
one working their best for the good

$10
for theffostBearadfi
Compactin the A,&l

I

Skies'

Gives

of the mass, and consequently of
himself, the cotton factory begins to
pick up.
All in all, Moscow Skies is a good
book if you take it for what it is:
a good and truthful description of

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