Since its rebirth almost exactly a year ago the Advocate has only once or twice been able to put its hands on the outstanding fiction or poetry that is sometimes written by college students--writing that would not seem out of place in the best American quarterlies. Because the new issue has one such story, the magazine is worth looking at, despite its lack of other merits.
"Yes, My Lieutenant,' b Denis Fodor, is a humorous tale. It mixes the tensions og guerrilla fighting in the mountains of Greece with the comedy that is in the pointlessness and incongruity of war. The Government's peasant soldiers are dupes not because they are going to be killed, but because their officers intend to bring them back safely without having fought a battle, and the war turns out to be a great practical joke, on which the Americans who are giving the Greeks their weapons are also victims. Fodor writes so well and develops his plot with such quiet skill that the reader may think at first that the story is another realistic war experience and not the superb comedy of modern times that it is.
With the exception of Fodor's work, the Spring issue is unimpressive. None of the Advocate's regular contributors appear, and the complete absence of poetry, the magazine's chief strength last year, is unfortunate. Instead of verse there is an article on the Harvard Theater Workshop by a mysterious character named Wythe Bemmell, who is identified by neither and Advocate not the University directory. The article tells fluently the two-year history of the dramatic group, but it is hard to find a reason for the presence of this free advertisement or to imagine what general interest it could have.
The only short story, Howard Lindsay's "Breakbands," has the merits of extreme economy and good visual detail, but the author tries so hard to imitate bad Hemingway that his work becomes artificial and almost unbearable. The long, casually connected sentences and the nonsyllabie tough talk do not seem to suit the writer, though his talent is obvious. Besides this story, there is a kind of dialogue called "O The Dangers of Daily Living," which satirizes, not wholly successfully, cocktail party conversation. It also contains some symbolism, but the piece doesn't seem to be worth the trouble of unravelling. The back pages are filled by two long book reviews.
The appearance of the magazine is as attractive as usual, although the art work is perhaps less pleasing. A new cover artist, H.F. Koeper has drawn a unique, attractive design.