THE TIME IS NOON by Hiram Haydn


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The last years of the Twenties, when young people played hard and fast, while their elders played the market, provide the setting for a Flaming Youth done in the 1948 manner. An extensive cast of principals -- two girls and four boys, all at school when the story starts -- cross section a many-faceted portrait of a period. Chance encountered on a Florida beach, five of them head into colorful melodrama, climaxing in a costumes dance at the art school where the girls are students, and ending on a note of violence, as Sand, intended as the most appealing of the lot, gets terribly drunk, is publicly fired, and goes off to a deserted shell of a resort hotel with Charlie, to an orgy of frustrated passion which leaves its indelible marks on the lives of both. Next the scene shifts to New England -- Sand and Harriet Hawthorne, whose own beauty is the focus of her young bitter attitude towards life, are guests of Tom Robinson, athlete, small town boy dazzled by the glamor of wealth, torn between the tenderness he feels for Sand, and the fascination Harriet exerts:- and of Lathrop Stone, ambitious, neurotic, resentful of his obligations to Charlie's father and taking it out in hating Charlie. Campus excesses- prom- and against this, the incident of Sol Krassovsky's dramatic expulsion from college and the lynching that followed- again melodrama, tinged with the infections of the era. From then on the story- in brief, vivid flashes- follows the various characters down the paths of their careers. From Back Bay Boston to Greenwich Village (with its full quota of licentiousness, phony art, drinking and bedding- and even a bit of perversion); from Paris to the Cleveland country club setting, from strike-harried textile mills of the South, a trial involving race prejudice at white heat, to New York publishing houses, from the extremes of the machinery of American Communism to the inner sanctums of the financial world- the story builds a picture of a feverish, brittle, abandoned era, a sick society- and a group of young people who are at once victims and adherents of the worst that society represents. The book is written with a certain penetrating brilliance, but it makes unpalatable reading for all but the hard-boiled reader. Faith in the book-backed by promotion and advertising may thrust upon it a prominence that will win sales and influence people.

Publisher: Crown