This is not an easy book to evaluate. Morrison Wood died in a Japanese prison camp, and with his death an experimental...



This is not an easy book to evaluate. Morrison Wood died in a Japanese prison camp, and with his death an experimental writer with unmistakable talent was lost. Whether he would have learned to sort the good from the bad in his writing, had he lived, is anyone's guess. This- his only surviving work- has originality; it has impact; it has moments of superb writing. But the average reader will find the style difficult, the plot too diffuse to hold, the multiplicity of characters confusing, and the unrelieved abnormalities, unpleasantness, perversions, sordid when spread in such wholesale fashion over 500 pages. The central character, Anthony Wayne, was controlled and impelled by lust for power over everyone, everything he touched. Wealth came- but that was only a tool. Power came, political, economic, social power- but that too was an instrument in the hand of a sadist. Women proved his chief obsession-whether he wanted them as media for expression, or implements for torturing others, or playthings, or tools for an immediate and perhaps passing whim- he used them, occasionally he allowed himself to be used- but only, at the end, did he allow any woman to win. Most of the men with whom he was in contact became in turn pawns in his game- and each thought he was an independent factor, motivated by an urge for revenge. And so you are given a stage- California for the most part; a period, that of incipient revolution in a post-war world; and a huge cast of characters, all tortured or torturing creatures, so rarely touched by normal human emotions as to make them seem forever out of drawing. The style, too, seems twisted, inverted- and yet it gathers a kind of momentum, a rhythm that keeps one reading, though hating, to the close... Personally, I disliked the book and I think most women will agree with me. It is an unsavory book, a book of which public libraries should be wary, a book that demands a certain toughness to enjoy. The publishers have tremendous faith in it and are backing it as their big dark horse.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 1946


Page Count: -

Publisher: Crowell

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1946