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GOD HEAD, by Leonard Cline, The Viking Press, New York. 1926. $2.

By G. LA Coeur

LIKE the poor, we have with us always first novels. A few reach excellence, more stop at mediocrity, and most never climb at all. Now just where "God Head" belongs still puzzles me, for it lacks the genuine drive and surge of intense artistry. On the other hand, it is unusually well constructed for the garden variety of fiction, while its predominant values place it well above the color level of such books. It bears no relation to popular bourgeiose stories, and its specious simplicity is belied on every page by an intellectually mature grasp of life. Immediately obvious becomes the pervading quality of seasoned craftsmanship in similar types of writing, of vigorous literary cadence, of a thoughtfully crystallized attitude to wards life. If the author had only a modicum of idealism or of disillusionment, he would write dynamically and "God Head" would not be a non-essential enigma.

For one. I fail to see why anybody ever rejects an occasional god-send from the publishers. In this case, the blurb writer has served up an excellent description of the story which errs only slightly on the side of hyperbole. discount the implication of the first of the following sentences and you may accept every statement at its face value:

"Paulus Kempf, surgeon, sculptor, poet, and labor agitator, is one of the most unusual characters in contemporary literature. Fleeing the vengeance of a hostile mob, he arrives in a tine settlement of Finns, living peacefully on the shore of Lake Superior in the shadow of a scowling granite face which Nature, in an angry mood, has carved on the mountainside. Sick to death of his fellowmen, he grasps at the ideal of the superman, whom no laws or conventions can touch, and seeks to raise himself to this height. The villagers are raw material for the exploitation of his new-found ideal. He lusts for the wife of his host; he plays upon the superstitions of the old people; he takes life and death into his own hands; and finally creates of the frowning face on the mountain a singing god head.

"Leonard Cline, like Paulus his protagonist, has defied the laws and conventions of the commonplace and has created an original and powerful novel tinged with the color of Finnish legends and folklore."

There you have the gist of the book. It is definitely amoral, generally convincing, superhumanly individualistic in thesis, and most readable. You may not approve of the author, but at least Mr. Cline is an artist. He will bear future watching.

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