On the Shelf
The post-Faulkner Advocate, out this week, has not received the advance ballyhoo of its predecessor, but it is nevertheless an interesting production. It is well-balanced (i.e.--three stories, three poems, and three book reviews) and has an extremely tasteful and attractive cover.
Ilona Karmel has written the longest piece, another installment of her reminiscences of Europe, which are soon to be published as a novel called "Cobbler's Paradise." In this one, we find little Stephania in a hospital in some unspecified part of Scandinavia, shooting the breeze with her Scandinavian comrades and reminiscing over the death of her father at the hands of the Nazis. There are two strands running through the chapter--a rather objectivized analysis of the Jewish conception of death, and a highly subjective narration of the guilt feelings which generally accompany the premature death of a close friend or relative. Both strands are well handled. The dialogue is natural and never lags seriously, and the chapter has enough content and coherence to stand well by itself.
"Black Mamba," by William Conboy, is an intriguing story of a pregnant wife, resident of Cape Town, who goes for her health to the warm, dry veldtland. Her gradual emergence into the sun and warmth, in both the literal and figurative senses, and her final dramatic renunciation of the cold, unsensual life with her husband are very neatly done. Mr. Conboy builds his setting with authority and a minimum of beating around the bush, which gives the story an extremely rapid pace. My only complaint would lie with the insufficient development of the husband, who remained throughout little more that a stereotype all set about with raindrops.
William Morrison's "Mary Jane and Jerry" is a sort of atmosphere piece with strong overtones of sensual feelings and impressions. If one steps over the first paragraph, which looks almost as though someone accidentally left it lying in the doorway, the first part of the story is relatively easy to negotiate. But the last half jumps from one impression to another with jack-rabbit agility. Both the mood and the concrete impressions suffer thereby, and the story fades out in a disappointing burst of obscurity.
Two of the three poems can be summed up in a word: esoteric. Both Charles Neuhauser's "Sunday in Jersey" and Douglas Freelander's "Death of the Old Singer" start off with some promise of entertainment for the general reader, but plunge headlong into a thick fog before they are half done. "Billet Doux," by Robert Layzer, is simply a nifty little sentiment, niftily expressed.
The book reviews suffer more from confusion than obscurity. In the case of George Kelly's review of Hawkes' "The Beetle Leg," it is freely admitted confusion, mixed with strong admiration for Hawkes' bold style. But J. W. (he is nowhere identified further) has endowed his review of "The Good Soldier," by Ford Madox Ford, with such a profusion of character analyses and interpretations of theme that it is muddy going indeed. Louis Begley's critique of a volume of Stephen Mallarme's poems, however, is a straightforward and seemingly well-informed job.
There is a charming new department in the Advocate, entitled "Errata" and consisting solely of tid-bits "regrettably" omitted from the Faulkner issue due to "proof errors." We look forward to the inclusion of this department on a regular basis, as it is a unique way of providing continuity from one issue to another. Miss Karmel seems to have been singled out for "the treatment" by this month's proofreaders. She was deprived of more than one set of quotation marks which should rightfully have been hers, and was subjected to the delightful variant: "So I just waived my hand..."