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May 21, 1939 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1939-05-21

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SUNDAY, MAY 21,1939


Latest Essay Annual Mirrors
. Problems Of American Life

v 1

alists. He described himself, in an-
swer to questions, as a "revolution-
ary, like everyone else," and when
asked what Communism meant to
him, answered simply, "Tractors."
Balanced Faculty
In the section on Education ap-
peared the best piece of thought-
provokful writing in the book, Alex-
ander Meiklejohn's Teachers and
Controversial Questions. Professor
Meiklejohn not only urges free dis-
cussion of controversial topics in our
schools; he advises school boards to
take care to see that there are enough
radical-minded teachers to adequate-
ly present criticisms of the status quo,
so that students will be able to make
an absolutely free choice between
equally-weighted alternatives. "More
urgent even than thequestion, 'Shall
we turn left or right?' is the ques-
tion, 'In what way shall it be de-
cided whether we go left or right?"'
according to this leading American
educator, and he warns us a danger
exists that "without realizing it, we
shall desert our principles of free-
The four essays in "The Critical
World" section are all of interest.
James T. Farrell's A Novelist Begins,
describing the metamorphosis of
Studs Lonigan from a short story to
a trilogy, represents something rather
too unusual: discussion of the de-
velopment of a literary work by the
writer himself. Malcolm Cowley's re-
view of Van Doren's biography of
Franklin and Clifton Fadiman's re-

view of William Allen White's bi-
ography of Coolidge are brilliant ex-
amples of the art of criticism as prac-
ticed by two of our best, if not our
two best, literary commentators. Fin-
( ally, Brooks Atkinson's little tidbit on
dramatic reviewing is.choice, if trivi-
Propaganda Again
In Language and Press, Stuart
Chase and Christopher Morley warn
against the subtleties of current
propaganda (where have I heard that
word before?) while the section on
humor is distinguished by Ruth .Mc-
Kenney's story of Randolph Church-
ill and his sock, the funniest chap-
ter of last year's funniest book.
"Society and Politics" is again one
of the best sections of the book. Lew-
is Mumford's The Future of the
American City, a condensation of his
monumental Culture of Cities, cer-
tainly requires special mention. David
Graham Hutton's An Englishman
Looks at the States offers a valuable
perspective on American politics as
seen from the outside. David Cush-
man Coyle writes intelligently on
Freedom, remarking that "Freedom
in a nation with a growing govern-
ment depends on a growing democ-
racy to control the government."
This closing section, as -I indicated
earlier, is the most encouraging in
the collection, from a social point of
view. In the whole group, however,
a distinct note of new ideas emerging
to meet new conditions in life and
literature, is clearly discernible.

Graduate's First Novel
Shows Errors Of
BREAKFAST, by Jerome Ellison.
Random House, New York. $2.00.
Jerome Ellison is a Michigan gradu-
ate of the class of 1930 who made
good as associate editor of the Read-
er's Digest. This is his first novel,
and having gotten it published, there
is no doubt he will write more.
The chief defect in first novels is
that the author frequently mistakes
a series of events for a story. That is
the trouble here; Mr. Ellison has
written the history of a young man in
college and for a while afterwards,
with various things happening to him,
some of them commonplace, some of
them extraordinary, but which put
together do not constitute a pattern.
Shannon Light, the "prisoner," be-
longs to the Post-War Generation,
which has just about been picked
clean by the literary gleaners of the
Hemingway school of the thirties. He
earns his way through college by
scabbing in a building strike in Chi-
cago. He falls in love with a beauti-
ful sorority girl and makes friends
with a madame in a vice house. He
is an art student; he takes a course
in aeronautics, however, and enters
the naval flying service for a while.
Then he goes to New York and be-
comes involved in a large-scale con-
fidence game and has an adventure.
The ending takes a stab at symbolism,
but it is not partciularly convincing.
The one thing that the book really
puts across, whether by chance or de-
sign, is a good piece of propaganda
for enlightened birth control and
abortion laws. The two incidents of;
real importance in the story are both
the result of abortions; the first, the
death of Shannon's college girl sweet-
heart, and the second the final
smashup of his life. (There are be-f
tween 600,000 and 2,000,000 abortions,
performed yearly in the U.S., inciden-
tally, with at least 10,000 lives lost).,
Mr. Ellison has copied the style of
James M. Cain with fairly good
success. Shannon's life, however, is
not of social or psychological signifi-:
cance as was that of Frank, or what-1

thanael West, Random House, N.Y.
All sorts of books have been writ-
ten about Hollywood-a few compli-
mentary. There have been books
about movie stars, about the home
town girl who made good and the
home town gal who went bad; we've
read about the press-agent who mar-
ried his client and the script-writer
who left on the verge of madness.
The plots are innumerable and they
usually end happily with Hollywood
far away. Not so with Nathanael
'West. He dumps the reader into a
Hollywood jungle that has never been
explored before: he digs deeply into
the backstreets of the Film Capital
and turns out a gripping tale about
the most fantastic conglomeration of
"sane" people ever to be gathered into
one place. What's more he stays in
The main character is an ex-Yale
School of Fine Arts student. import-
ed by telegram to learn set and cos-
tume designing in Hollywood at $30
per. His intentions are good, but
the circumstances and his own men-
tal make-up are against him. West
portrays him completely in three sen-
tences. "His large, sprawling body,
his slow blue eyes and sloppy grin
made him seem completely without
talent, almost doltish in fact. Yes,
despite his appearance, he was really
a very complicated young man with
a whole set of personalities, one in-
side the other like a nest of Chinese
boxes. And "The Burning of Los
Angeles," a picture he was soon to
paint, definitely proved he had tal-
Among Tod's friends we find Faye
Greener and her father, a worn out
second-rate clown. Faye "could only
love a handsome man and would only
let a wealthy man love her"; yes, she
tries to break into the movies. What
makes West's book different, how-
ever, is the fact that he doesn't both-
er with this hackneyed fact, but con-
centrates on the uniqueness of Faye's
character. In addition there is a
mid-Western bookkeeper with TB.
and a tic in his hands, a 1900 cow-
several years late; it gives the im-
pression of having been written eight
or ten years ago.
The book is very short, 218 small
pages. The conciseness of the style
suggests that perhaps Mr. Ellison
could become a capable short story
writer; his novel just hasn't a great
deal to it.

boy and his Mexican fighting-cock-
trainer friend, the fashionable Mrs.
Fleming whose girls rent at $30 per
night, and a would-be Jackie Coogan
and his mother.
But most important is the entire
background of worn out members of
the lower middle class; they have
saved their money to die in Califor-
nia and find the process so boring
that they must find an emotional
vent in violence.
The job of making these sane and
normal freaks believable in their ab-
normalities is a difficult one, but

West achieves it. He brings each
character in his book out of its pages,
an operation that is all the more sur-
prising in view of their slightly un-
balanced mental states. His ability
at sharp characterization as dem-
onstrated in this Hollywood side show,
in fact, makes it extremely regret-
table that he hasn't confined him-
self to normal human beings and the
universal tragedies of life in 1939, in-
stead of the poignant, yet unique and
extremely minor tragedy (although
his treatment is a powerful one) of
Hollywood "lunatic fringe."

Author Analyzes Hollywood Character

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Publication in the Bulletin is constructive notice to all members of the University.
Copy received at the office of the Assistant to the President until 3:30 P.M.;
11:00 A.M. on Saturday.

(Continued from Page 4)
Brashares will preach at the Morning
Service on "God Saves This World."
Stalker Hall. Wesleyan Guild meet-
ing at 6 p.m. at the Church. Harold
Gray will speak on "War and the Con-
scientious Objector." Fellowship hour
and supper following the meeting.
First Presbyterian Church, 1432
Washtenaw Ave.
10:45 a.m., Morning Worship Serv-
ice. "Blessed Frustrations!" will be
the subject of Dr. W. P. Lemon's ser-
mon. Palmer Christian at the organ
and directing the choir.
6 p.m., The Westminster Guild,
student group, will meet at the coun-
cil circle for a picnic supper. At the
meeting which will follow in the
open air theatre, Dr. Lemon will lead
a discussion on "The God of the Open
Air" with brief reference to the re-
cent campus lectures on the being
of God.
8 p.m., The Sunday Evening Club
will meet in the Lewis parlor.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church:
Sunday, 8 a.m. Holy Communion;
9:30 a.m. Junior Church; 11 a.m.
Kindergarten; 11 a.m. Morning Pray-
er and sermon by the Rev. Henry
Lewis; 4 p.m. Student and Young
People's Picnic at Dr. Walter Koelz's
farm in Waterloo. Speaker: Mr.
Thakur Rupchand of Tibet. Cars
leave Harris Hall at 4 p.m.

fronting Ann Arbor young people, by
John Huston, '41, Frances Orr, '40,
Tom Lovering and Robert Cummins.
Recorded symphony music and ques-
tion period.
8 p.m. Moving Pictures shown by
Dr. Norman Maier on Rat Behavior.

First Congregational Church, State ever his name was, in The Postman
and William Streets. Minister, Rev. Always Rings Twice. He is scarcely
Leonard A. Parr. representative of the post-war youth
Sunday morning service of worship in his personal problems; insecurity
at 10:45. Dr. Leonard A. Parr will never touches him, though he lives
preach on the subject "That Eloquent rather poorly in New York. The main
But'." thing that is certain to strike the
At 3:15 Student Committee and, reader, though, is that the book is
Student Cabinet will meet in Pilgrim
Hall. Following this meeting the
Student Fellowship will have a picnic
it}7 t f7n f rD il






outing at Duexter K rk leaving Pilgrim
Hall at five o'clock.
Disciples Guild (Church of Christ):
10:45 a.m., Morning worship serv-
ice. Rev. Fred Cowin, minister. 6:30
p.m., Under the leadership of the
Council the Guild will evaluate the
program of the past year and project
plans for the year 1939-1940.
7:30 p.m., Social hour and refresh-

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Unitarian Church:
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discussion of local

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