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UNDERGRADUATE authors seem to have a flair for the shallow and the flippant. Ever since, F. Scott Fitzgerald we have had a series of sophomoric novel writers who spill a lot of ink, twist. Their words into a cross-word puzzle pattern, and sell their products under the name of literature to the thousands who affect. Sophistication because they lack understanding.
Last year Harvard was victimized by a certain Mr. Dunton, advertised as a rising star of the new school, whose "Wild Asses" would already be4 forgotten if it were not selling for fifty cents in bookstores on the Square. And now Cornell Woolrich, a Columbia undergraduate, has written of Broadway's night life as typified by her "gigolos" and "gigolettes." Just what Mr. Woolrich Knows about Broadway's night life it id difficult to determine. He says so very little that has not been said before, and very much more expressively in "the Great white Way." "Flaming Passions" and other feature pictures which you can still see at the Globe Theatre any evening this spring.
"Cover Charge" has neither plot, nor beginning nor end. The aurnor purports to supply one in the career of Alan, the hero. What it comes down to is a series of sordid affairs strung together with a certain deftness which is hardly compelling. In flashers, Mr. Woolrich's characters stand out in three dimensions. For the most part, however, they remain the tinsel marionnettes which the author undoubtedly intended them to be in order to gain his distorted effects. He tries to be surprising and clever in his use of words and situations but he too often descends to sheer stupidity like this:
"Your husband has gone down to bathe in the stream," Manuela told the expressionless Vera.
"That's good," Vera said, "tell him to scrub his dirty neck."
Apparently to justify the shallowness of the book there is a moral to all this word-syncopation. The cover-chare, as it is not tremendously difficult to guess, is the bitter payment exacted from the gigoles in return for which they have received nothing worth while. In spite of this very worthy but hardly original religious by play, the book leaves the felling that you have been listening to two solid hours of very bad jazz.
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