The Reporter Material
Final Score. By Warren Beck. (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 9s.) The English Teacher. By R. K.
N8sera6yda Jn. (Eyre and Spottiswoode,
Thursday Afternoons. By Monica Dickens. (Michael Joseph, 10s. 6d.) The Broken Arc. By Mayette Mayneng. (Cassell, Its. 6d.) Some Trees Stand. By B. Dew Roberts. (Chatto and Windus, 9s. 6d.)
Horizon. By Helen MatInnes. Warrap, 7s. 6c1.1
To the Smiting. By Inez Hoklen. Lane. 7s. 6d.)
Reviewed by W. J. IGOE "1 CAN rise to a hall' a tno of hope now and then, and I might even strain a drop or two of
test skim-milk charity, hut where in h--do these guvs get all that faith ?"
Where indeed ? The speaker is a reporter, one Parker, reflecting on the end of an embryonic American fuhret whose carcehag been nipped in the bud by (a) a well-aimed truncheOn, and (b) his own outraged conceit. The latter has led him to a small town essay in hari-kari, Western style. Bill Ilutten is dead but Parker surmises his soul goes marching on. He had started o., the south side of Monroe. the part of the town where the small bungalows accommodating small men were situated. He had become a football star at the local college; when he graduated members of his fraternity had floated a sportsgoods manufacturing company bearing his name and exploiting his fame. He was an inward-turning youth, singleminded and fanatical ; as an athlete, greedy for success and the plaudits of the crowd. He was uneasy in the society that his prowess attracted. Always frowning. always self-seeking, in his narrow way, he eventually found himself the symbol of all the frustration and resentment which irritated the furies in the breasts of so many of his fellows. He had a following. He became a catspaw for the local political bosses. His business friends, had exploited his vanities. Also the politicians because his vanity was fed by those who saw in him the synthesis
of their own resentment of life. He was the fuhrer, the " divine average,the eternal mediocrity inflated by the gaseous rancour of his multitude of brothers. It is their faith that puzzles the reporten The puzzle of " two million registered readers," of Adolf Hitler, of swooners over crooners. Other ages have raised false gods, but surely the age which has elevated house-painters. grocery clerks and lavatory attendaots to that lofty pinnacle is the age of a faith that can destroy mountains. It does just that. Mr. Beck's first novel, Final Score, is warmly recommended by this reviewer. It . is good enough to be slightly difficult reading for the British reader. This because it is thoroughly American in its idiom. It is a work of art besides being thought-provoking in the best way, R. Narayan, author of The Lnr 1'1 lish Teacher, is described by his publisher as an " Indian Tchekov." For ance the reviewer and the publisher agree. The blare of the American city of Mr. Beck becomes vulgar in the atmosphere created by this gentle artist. He satirises himself, his reactions to squabbles among his colleagues, his deliberations on the tremendous literary endeavours he will make in the future, and his weakminded, harrowing worries when his wife and child go on an ordinary railway journey. We are, for once, kin with the Indian in this series of pictures of a classroom, a college hostel, a home, a city, of house-hunting, beat, death-beds, and the love of ordinary people. A lovely hook and one to be re-read.
THURSDAY afternoons Dr. Sheppard goes to the clinic, which is the principal character in Miss Dickens' novel. This young writer is so good at the documentary side of her craft that I imagine she tends to overlook her obvious gifts for character drawing. Her description of the people in the queue in the opening chapter might have been worthy of her ancestor, had she not been so anxious to get it over These waifs, hating or hugging their baneful or beloved illnesses, are so cleverly etched that they jump over fix chief characters, leaving a stronger impression than these uncertainly drawn full-portraits. • Miss Dickens presents a cross-section of
society vividly One can recommend her book, making the mental note— it is not quit,. a novel.
HORIZONS. The Broken Arc, and Some Trees Stand are for the
romantic escapist reader. The first two spring from the war. Horizon deals with the adventures of an escapee from an Italian prisoner-ofwar camp and his adventures with partisans in the Dolomites. The Broken Arc is about young people in love and the fall of France. Both will serve the purpose of easy meeting. Miss B Dew Roberts' novel of Wales in the early years of the present century is teenier, has a stronger plot than the others, and is probably better value for this type of reader. It would be a better hook if expressions like
" brilliant " were not applied to " young chemists and the eyes of the characters avoided being ' blurred with tears.But there you are, a harmless trio, readable and comfortable.
MISS Inez Holden turns an ironic IhIand almost diabolically detached eye upon her fellows in her short stories,
Ti) the Boating. Her people are little people who must pretend to be big. She exposes them with the cruel ease of the good caricaturist and probably come nearer to realism than the bleakly photographic Good wine in small bulk.
Muir: for no Tire: Official Handbook. IParkside Press. Is. 6d.) The 1945 edition of the Muintjr na Tire Handbook includes a generous series of agricultural survey articles and comments by Irish and Scots Gaels on the outlook in both countries. A useful artd cheap little volume, tastefully produced.