In spite of what the printer may say, seekers of blasphemy or eroticism will find lean pickings in the current Advocate. The three stories each boast at least one attempted or completed seduction, but by modern standards they are quite tame.
Two of the stories, on subjects which seem to be fashionable these days--the decaying South and oppressed Africa--have considerable merit. The first, Told About One Spring, by Edward Cumming, is a first-person narrative which is well-paced and smooth throughout, with character and plot development fully integrated. The subject is a trite one--the love affair of a schoolboy and an older woman--and there are no original embellishments to distinguish this story from myriad other chronicles of the Modern South. But as an exercise in getting a series of messy situations and emotions down on paper with maximum clarity, the story is both skilful and fun to read.
The Africa story, The Hill People, by Elizabeth Marshall, is a most intriguing study of the mixed emotions and loyalties of a native girl who has married a white man. It is written in the "he said...she said" technique with a minimum of interpretation, but the dialogue manages to hint out a great deal of the atmosphere, and the ending, while it is shocking, nevertheless seems to round out a well-planned situation. Miss Marshall's story is probably the best work in this issue; she creates richness of context with simplicity of expression, and makes a good story out of an oft-used theme.
In Passage, by Peter Ferber, the third of the stories, is not good at all. It traces briefly and inadequately the situations of a German prisoner of war and the young man whom he conks on the head while making his escape. The flashbacks which outline the German's development are very awkwardly handled, and the other fellow is surrounded with a hastily-contrived context that is trite and unconvincing. Mr. Ferber also goes in for interpretation and explicit mood-setting, but in spite of these devices, his story seems too short for the material he tries to put into it.
The poetry in the issue is generally unexciting, except for a quite eloquent lyric called Falcon, by Francis Spalding. The other poems, two each by David Chandler and Benjamin LaFarge, are quite ornate, and, in the case of the latter, considerably involved in their sentence structure.
The cover of the April issue, variously attributed to Michael Zimmer and Andrew Zimmer, is tasteful and appealing, in keeping with the generally high standard of recent Advocate covers.