MR. SMITH by Louis Bromfield
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This is good Bromfield, in the tradition of his earlier work, The Green Bay Tree, Possession, etc. It probably wont have the popular appeal of his later work; but it will help reinstate him in the critical judgment of those who once looked to him as outstanding among American writers. The sensationalism, the pandering populace, such aspects of Night in Bombay and others as fed the lurid imagination will be found in muted terms in only one incident in New Orleans. This is a psychological novel. The title is symbolic of Everyman of this troubled 20th century who appears, to his fellows, to be prosperous, a good husband and father, a good citizen, a sound businessman, an active club member, while underneath the assured front is boredom, disillusionment, restlessness, a sense of inadequacy, of frustration, an awareness that his life is filled with material things that cover the lack of spiritual and intellectual things. What Death of a Salesman did for the end-of-the-road travelling salesman, this might well do for Bromfield's Mr. Smiths. The story is told on two levels of time:- the main thread follows the life of Wolcott Ferris, growing up in a mid-western town in the throes of becoming a city; the transitions tell of his months of self discovery, on an isolated Pacific Island during the war and of the other misfits who served under him. There are a few introspective bits that might be Mr. Bromfield philosophizing on the world today, but for the most part the reader identifies himself almost painfully with Wolcott Ferris in his honest effort to reassess the road he has travelled-and the escape the war affords. The Bromfield name insures a good send-off; the quality of the book insures its future.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1951
ISBN: 1406738913
Publisher: Harper