When the class of '76 was in its Sophomore year, a volume of short stories, written by members of Professor A. S. Hill's course in composition made its appearance under the title "Sophomore Stories." Professor Hill tried to get the book from the University Library one day and found it in the Archeology Department.
No such grim fate should await "Made to Order," another volume of "Sophomore stories," which appears this week.
It is a thoroughly Harvard product for Mr. Maynadier '89 is the impresario, L. A. Noble '13, the publisher and thirteen members of Mr. Maynadier's composition course, English 22, each contribute a story.
In his preface, Mr. Maynadier assures the reader that there is nothing didactic or heavy about the stories. Nor is there. All are creditable bits of narrative, and several of them are distinctly above the average of the Monthly and the Advocate.
A somewhat hurried reading of the stories left these impressions, which are arranged in the order the stories appear in "Made to Order" (a title which, unfortunately connotes custom tailoring).
Mr. Amory's "Lady in Gray," a sprightly story of Cosmopolitan calibre, begins with a pick-up in a Pullman. It contains a mild satire on the modern best seller, and is easy and graceful.
Mr. Carter's "The Dice Decide" strives for a tough atmosphere and gets just enough to befog an undersized plot.
Mr. Courtney's "Good-bye, Vera," is a hair-raising "Crook" story, with a beautiful girl, a diamond necklace, handsome young villains, hand-to-hand struggles, and a detective flashed on the screen in rapid succession. It is melodramatic-but successfully melodramatic.
Mr. Dana's "That Day in Africa," is a vivid account of a hunting trip. It contains some first rate "out-of-door" writing-and one cannot doubt that it is as true as its sub-title says it is.
Mr. Lamont's "People Don't Do Such Things," is the shortest story in the book, but it excels the others in technique and the powerful "punch." It is not as "light" a story as the preface promises; for it concerns itself with the tragedy of a working girl, who was foolish enough to fall in love with a University student, and to Ibsen herself into an early grave. The theme is well handled.
Mr. Leffingwell's "Iron Band" is a tune of the good old triangle; it is passionate, almost hysterical. But for a story of the kind, it is well done.
Mr. Mechem's "A Young Man in Wrong" is clever, especially the dialogue.
Mr. Park's "Happily Ever After" is a pleasant ramble in the O. Henry vein.
Mr. Petersen's "Gran'son's Crew," uses a moving picture machine as the "dues ex machine,"-which is a dog eared device ere now.
Mr. Shea's "Our Sphinx" is a wild yarn of college life whose hero is a mathematical Swede addicted to dope. It is effectively told.
Mr. Smith's "Six Twenties" is a story of counterfeiters, with a transparent plot. Its style is too terse.
Mr. Southgate's "The Balance" wrestles with an ethical problem and throws it with a strangle hold. It is a story more mature in conception and treatment than most of the others.
Mr. Wood's "Grip of the Tropics" "grips"-but its Madam Butterfly motif is far from new.
The venture deserves success and imitation.