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More About the Theatre

HOME TALENT. by Louse Closser Hale. Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1926 $2.

By Donald S. Gibbs

WHEN prize fighters, prelates and profiteers parade their talent on the fields of contemporary literature one is not surprised to find an actress attempting the same. Louise Closser Hale contends that people of the stage have thoughts worth printing in other than press notices. And perhaps she is right. But the stage does not, after all, furnish quite the proper training for the writing of delightful and interesting fiction. Yet, as she admits, this is really with her a mere avocation--so one dare not condemn her completely.

Nor need one condemn her at all. For she will no doubt sell many copies of "Home Talent" and grins will grace the faces of many an inspired reader who will gain both a knowledge of just what one does ion those brighter circles of the theatre and what one doesn't--all in spite of the fact that the writer has never been in South Africa. Indeed, there is a certain gain accruing from an even careless reading of the book: one learns of the theatre. Just what worth the learning has remains a trifle doubtful. But it is there, sole raison d'etre of the work. And he who likes the book must like the book must like it for that or with that--or not at all.

For the style is not exactly enticing.

"Dry up, roared her lord," being an excellent example. And the delightful little gesture about the man who abridged in Bridgeport. That has flavor. And the characters enjoy a certain spiciness, perhaps the sparkler of impossibility. For aside from the old mother who was so very wise and middle western and the stage manager with a penchant for odd books, they move and have their being in a rather crude and unusual fashion--being more romantic than classic, much more.

The plot, however, is not unusual. In truth it savors of the centuries and breeds remembrances of other novels which since times antique have sent a little girl from the country on, on and up--and watch out for the Butter and Egg man--on, on and into the theatre. But this is to rob the first chapter of its mystery. There is mystery there. If one were a Christopher North, one would add--"the mystery of why one reads the things at all"; as long as one is not, the mere intrigue which always associates itself with new print and new paper and the fact that the author is a delightful actress and a friend of a friend of one's mother. "Home Talent" will sell fairly well and make an excellent moving picture.

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