CROSS SECTION by Edwin -- Ed. Seaver


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Volume two of an annual -- a collection of new American writing which promises to take its place as an indicator of new talent, of names to watch. The book left me disturbed: -- convinced that there were unplumbed riches of talent to which the general public has little access, puzzled at the unrelieved sombreness, the bitter, cynical, disillusioned tone-for surely there must be some field of experimental writing, even in these days, that has more lightness, more humor, more relief, other than the wry and grim and distorted nightmare quality some of this writing evinced. A majority of the stories have a contemporary background; almost none of them are second rate of negligible -- the collection as a whole shows an assiduous discernment that is noteworthy. The war as is to be expected is woven into the fibre: -- the way men feel at the front, about home, about discharges, about furloughs -- all done through disillus eyed, devoid of any vestige of sentiment, hard, often brittle, but often too torn out of human hearts and souls. One can see why these stories were rejected. Race problems -- particularly the Negro problem (I think the story of the two Negro soldiers trying to get a place on a bus for a Christmas furlough is the story that -- for me -- cut deepest of the lot. Read it for yourself, -- Christmas Furlough, by James Light.) flashes of life going on; a few refuges pieces; and one dream fantasy, nightmare quality as lost souls on a bus going nowhere are driven by a driver with three mks through wrecked Berlin .... The chief contribution a book of this sort makes is in giving a chance to writers to do that sort of experimenting that is the life of literature in its growing. The prose was, for me, far better than the poetry. Richard Wright's Chicago material -- deleted at the last moment from Black Boy, is included, and to those who felt Black Boy needed a foil of contrasting experience, here it is.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1945
Publisher: L.B. Fischer