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The Interesting Process of Growing Up

SUTTER'S GOLD, by Blaise Cendrars; Harper and Brothers, New York, 1926. $2.50

By H. M. .

THE old prospectors of California, we are informed, were fearless and insuperable prevaricators. Also they not infrequently sacrificed their mental balance to the pursuit of gold. Both of these features figure in Blaise Cendrar's "Sutter's Gold." Throughout this tale of Sutter's truly Munchausian career the author in an attempt at sustained tenseness fails to appreciate the differentiation between fact, exaggeration, and fiction. The result is a hodge podge unique, but not altogether barren of interest. The economist might weep over two hundred dollar onions, or choke over a thousand dollar glass of water; the geologist might be alarmed over finding talc, even in California, to be a staple plantation product; but even the stylist would be intrigued by mountains "teaming with gold and platinum."

Now strong ones like that of the forty-niner who "herded a hive of bees across the plains. Nope, never lost a single bee," are good listening. So are the innumerable and weird stories of lost Eldorados, which stories are adrift in every mining camp. They might even be mingled, but they should never be both mixed and then torn up into Cendrars's tense and broken diction--unsuccessful attempt toward atmosphere--with too liberal use of exclamation points.

The illustrations, woodcuts by Mr. Climino, are better than the fiction.

Evidently modern Paris did not offer a sympathetic background for writing an epic of California's '49.

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