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October 29, 1939 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1939-10-29

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Period John R. Tunis'
Wars. Book Describes


Writes Story Of The
Americans In Spain ...

mna, while that "inaccessible siren"
ollows suit for David (or was it the
Danby fortune?) For supposed se-
crets as David's ancestry did not
long remain secret when known to
Mr. Martindale, who Sir Thomas had
placed in moral, if not legal, guar-
dianship over David.
Mr. Martindale, a definitely Wode-
housian character, enlivens this por-
tion of the book with his pseudo-
philosophic outbursts, his very gen-
ial and, to David, crudely offensive,
ribaldry and his man-about-the-
world attitude. It is Mr. Martindale
who introduces David to "society".
It is Mr. M'Jartindale who takes a few
months off to travel about the cap-
itals of Europe, the better to know
other men's wives. And, hypocrit-
ically, it is Mr. Martindale who writes
David a fatherly note concerning Di-
ana, advising him to "Keep it quiet.
Keep it clean. Keep it unproletarian
(i.e., without offspring)."
Throughout "Rejected Guest" Al-
dington freely imparts his views on
today's world, a heterogeneous col-
lection of the same type of man, the
way in which this man's character
is revealed only conditioned by the
amount of material wealth he pos-
sesses. Aldington also leaves no
doubt in the reader's mind of his
feeling toward her, reminding one
of the closing lines of his poem "For
Our noblest are gone, our heroes
Close the ranks-
Fight on in the battle eternal,
Of mind and spirit against force
and hate,
Close the ranks,
Fight on.
New Books
ust Derleth (Scribner's, $2.50).
The characters here move from the
aristocracy of Hungary to the Wis-
consin of 1840. In setting them up
in the new land, Mr. Derleth creates
a beautiful, tragic and moving situa-
tion which thereupon remains almost
unchanged for some hundred pages
-too many for even the most effec-
tive still life.
Leland D. Baldwin (Lee Furman,
A long novel of Pennsylvania in the
1790's. The hero is generally pre-
occupied with losing and finding his
soul, but that doesn't keep him from
excise-tax rebellions, Mississippi Riv-
er brawls, beautiful dangerous ladies
and similar excitement. American
history isn't often dug up with so
much warmth and spirit.
* * *
SAM, by John Selby (Farrar and
Rinehart, $2.50).
Not Sam's first entrance into. fiction
and hardly his last, but still one to
command attention. He's the news-
paper owner with tiny legs, five
trumpets in his throat, and a mort-
gage'on everybody's soul except his
wife's. A forceful, faithful portrait,
and American winner of this year's
All-Nations Prize Novel Competition.

Reviewer Finds'The Duke
Decides' Demonstrates
Poor Technique
Tunis. Harcourt, Brace & Com-
pany, New York.
Occasionally an author is able to
achieve several ends in writing one
book and to do it convincingly. Once
in a while someone will be able to
combine a fast-moving plot, an ex-
pose of some deplorable condition
and a psychological study of the
growth of character More often an
author will try to do all this and fail
to succeed in his aims. This book,
The Duke Decides, seems to fall neat-
ly into the category of the result of
the unsuccessful effort.
John Tunis, long recognized as an
excellent writer of sports stories, at-
tempted, it seems, a bit too much in
writing this novel. His writing so
lacks excellence that it is doubtful
that he could have achieved even one
of the ends, if he had foresaken all
others. He attempts, in one volume
of rather "spottily" written prose,
to depict the growth of the character
of a young man, the corrupt state
intercollegiate athletics, the thrilling
vet heart-breaking episodes of a track
man's career, the disgusting condi-
tion of Olympic athletics and the
pig-headed stupidity of the Hitler
regime in Germany.
I make no contention that all or
any of these objects might not pro-
vide an abundance of excellent ma-
terial if handled properly, but I do
contend that Tunis has mishandled
and "miswritten" most of this book.
One's attention is loudly called to
what appears to be the author's
first major attempt to record "stream
of consciousness." One cannot help
noticing the lapses into this style of
writing, and one cannot help feeling
that Tunis nBever before attempted
it on a large scale. It has been said
that the test of style is in its unob-
trusiveness-the better the handling,
the less noticeable the style. Stream
of consciousness passages in this book
fairly jump off the page at a reader.
Regardless of minorgfaults in Eng-
lish and proofreading, if Tunis had
any light to throw on the present
system of subsidization of college
athletics in the passages he has de-
voted to this, one might read on with
interest. But he gives forth only the
regular line of chatter, howled by
nearly every sports columnist in the
nation at least once every year.
The dialogue of the college stu-
dents who are the main characters
of The Duke Decides falls short of
what one expects of a writer of Tu-
nis' experience. In order to give an
impression of the nonchalance of
speech of the younger generation, he
puts harsh, clipped phrases into their
mouths. These make them seem cyn-
ical, caustic young animals-of
course, they may be all this, but their
other characteristics belie this im-
In one or two passages Tunis
achieves the high level of description
and impression at which his writing
usually cruises. His descriptions of
the races run by "Duke" Wellington

MEN IN BATTLE, by Alvah Bessie,
Scribner's, New York. Courtesy of
the Book Room.
Lost causes generally do not make
good reading. The one big exception
is of course the American Civil War;
but it may be noted that nine out of
ten of the slew of Civil War novels
written by Southern authors are shot
through with "romanticism" (in its
most vulgar sense).
While the war was going on in
Spain, it was being treated brilliant-
ly, both in fiction and in reportage.
But ever since Franco entered Ma-
drid, most Americans have felt little
but depression at the mention of
Spain. This may be why Alvah Bes-
sie's book on the Spanish war has
been received so quietly.
This reviewer, at any rate, was
rather reluctant even to begin read-
ing Men In Battle. And after reading
it, he can say that there is not much
enjoyment to be found in reading
about men in a strange country
fighting a losing battle.
But that is not the point at all.
Because if you want to find out what
war is like, divested of its heroics
and its glory, if you want to know
why several thousand Americans
went over to Spain to fight for a
government which regarded them,
most of the time, as intruders, you
must read Bessie's book. Bessie is a
good young writer-he has published
a novel, a good number of short stor-
ies, and was awarded a Guggenheim
in 1937.
Men In Battle, however, is not a
writer's book. It is not fancy, there
is no attempt at fine writing, and
the introspection is the introspection
of an average man. Bessie has writ-
ten the story of the Americans in
Spain as one of them, an ordinary
guy with a wife and a couple of kids
in Brooklyn, who happens to be a
"fiction writer".
There is no martial music in Men
in Battle, there are no speeches.
Whenever a bigshot came around
from headquarters to tell the boys
to go out and die for democracy, he
was met with a chorus of unprint-
able American slang. The boys had
no illusions; all they knew was mud,
hunger, and blood. But they went
are vibrant with realistic detail. No
one who has ever tried to go on with
anything when dead-tired and ready
to quit could help but feel himself
in the place of the Duke.

out and died (the Abraham Lincoln
Brigade will go down in history As
one of the great fighting units of all
time) because they wanted to stop
fascism, because they believed that
the simple things which Americans
live for are important enough to die
Men In Battle is the best book that

has appeared on the Spanish War
thus far. And it is far more than
that. It is an explanation, which
should be read by all those who, are
cynical enough to believe that ex-
planations are impossible, of how
ordinary, mediocre people can offer
their lives for a principle, for the
happiness of unborn generations.



Sunday, October 29, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium . . ORCHESTRA CONCERT
MABEL ROSs RHEAD, Pianist, Soloist. THOR JOHNSON, COnductor
Wednesday, November 1, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium... . .
Wednesday, November 8, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium..
Wednesday, November 15, 4:15 P.M. Hill Auditorium,.
Sunday, November 19, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium . FACULTY CONCERT
Baritone; AVA COMIN CASE, Accompanist.
Wednesday, November 22, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium....
Wednesday, November 29, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium .....
HELEN CROZIER, Organist, Eastman School of Music
Wednesday, December 6, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium .......
Sunday, December 10, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium . . HANDEL'S "MESSIAH"
Choral Union-University Symphony Orchestra-and Soloists
Wednesday, December 13, 4:15 P.M., Hill Auditorium.. ......


CARILLON RECITALS-Recitals will be given by Percival Price, University Caril-
lonneur, on the Charles Baird Carillon, until further notice, as follows: Thursday
evenings at 7:00 o'clock, and Sunday afternoon at 4:15, except when concerts are
held in Hill Auditorium, when an earlier hour will be set. The recital Sunday,
October 29, will be given at 2:45. Short informal recitals will also be given each
day except Sunday at 12:00 o'clock.



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