CRAWBELL: An Autobiography by James Drawbell
Kirkus Star

CRAWBELL: An Autobiography

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The early chapters have the vivid, total recall of Frank O'Connor's An Only Child, and they shared a common experience and reaction. The author's drunken wastrel father was endured by his children who had the strength of an admirable mother to draw on. Mr. Drawbell's refreshingly unapologetic affection for this remarkable woman brings her to life in his description of how it seemed to her youngest son during the grim years in turn of the century Scotch poverty. The doors are closed on his adolescent years. On the edge of these, the father became a remittance man. Perhaps life became unremarkably happy then or an emotional exhaustion covered those years. At any rate, the story continues after WWI when Drawbell emigrated to Canada and began his outstanding career in journalism. After making his start there, he perfected his craft as a free lance feature writer for the numerous N.Y. dailies of the '20's. This section is worth lingering over for it captures the discomforts of Scotch Presbyterian morality being maintained in overcharged Prohibition era N.Y. It also contains sketches of Drawbell's personal contacts-- most notable are those of Mencken and Scott Fitzgerald. He decided to go to London on irresistible impulse and, at only 26, became the youngest editor of a national newspaper since the 1840's. Under his aegis, the Sunday Chronicle became a strong, innovating paper and offered the public the best of the young writers and a concern with basic issues. His marriage, some insight into the background of war news gathering and the intimate glimpse of celebrities-- no name-dropper, he-- complete the story of an interesting man who was in and of his time.

Publisher: Pantheon