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Eooks and the Book World of The Sun, December 28, 1919.
Mr. Hollidav Is Deified
By BENJAMIN DE CASSERES.
WHEN you went down or up Broad
way iu ono of the old cable cars,
and you were compelled to stand, do you
remember the conductor's slogan as you
approached Fourteenth street?
"Hold fast goin' 'round the curve!" he
shouted through the car.
It's just like that when I pick up a
new book of Robert Cortes Ilolliday's.
The book is a car packed full of curious
people and each chapter is a curve. If
you stand right inside tho chapters you
get wonderfully diverse views through the
shining windows, and if you stand on the
platform of the book, where "Bob" him
self is the couductor, you can look at
the world as it rapidly disappears in
Holliday's cable car not only runs np
and down the Broadway of life, but
dodges in and out of many curious, little
known streets. In fact, there is no Bat
tery or Harlem car barn in the ride at
all. , The whole pleasure of the intellec
tual trip consists in going nowhere in
particular. You dash from Broome street
into Fifth avenue, strike into Forty
second street, whirl down along tho
wnterfront; suddenly finding yourself
going over Brooklyn or London Bridge.
While your eye is thus guzzling in the
sights Conductor Bob is pouring anec
dotes of all these streets into your ears,
the people that li-cd in them, the queer
boarding houses that have harbored Rob
bert; with intermezzi on art, china, dogs,
fireplugs, Chesterton, love, Jim Hune
ker, the war and the bartenders that are
When I reviewed his Walking Stick
Papers last year I said that Robert Cortes
Holliday was "the O. Henry of the essay."
His latest book, Broome Street Straws, is
a good successor to that book. It is
packed from cover to cover with palat
able edibles. It is a feast prepared by
a bohemian spirit the boheinian spirit
that doesn't depend on wine to keep it
bouncing. Ilolliday is an enemy to tho
Eighteenth Amendment, like all wiso
spirits. But that chunk of "bent light"
in. tho Constitution has not in the least
destroyed the focus of the rays that como
from that riant mind.
He is a rollicking, Rabelaisian Amer
ican who has something of the touch of
Anatolu France, the graciousness of
Charles Lamb, the keen and subtle satire
of Mark Twain and that gift of auto
irony that is apparent nowhere in the
literature -of America to-day except it
be in the pages of James Huncker and
When you read him you feel from the
get-away of the first sentence that you
are not talking to nwriter, but to a man,
the eternal Man that you meet in a bar
room, a theatrical lobby, a ball game, an
art show, a printer's alley or in China
town. . Everything he, says is an "aside,"
a parenthetical remark, one of those little
bits of conversation you catch over tho
wire nowadays while the lines are crossed
and while you are waiting for the oper
ator to give you the wrong number. No
pedantry here; no "Art for art's sake,"
or ink for ink's sake, but downright life
broad smiles that go to the marrow of
the thing, by a man who says, There is
nothing profound except humor!
Broome Street Straws is a great pick-me-up
after you've spent the night with,
say, Paul Elmer More. You'll sit and
read it all morning and let your job slide.
It ia tho fascination of an unexpected
conversation with Pickwick or Tristram
Broome street is the overtime to this
symphony of humor and criticism. I
confess that after reading it I immedi
ately jumped a ear and walked from one
end of tliat street to the other. I could
:t trutB rr ntmr II nr. it ilnr tu tinmen.
t rn trit) to a line.
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AUTOORAPIX LETTKKS OF PAAIODS PEO
riJC BOUOIIT XND SOLD. WALTER R
BENJAMIN. 1470 B'WAY, N. Y. PUB. "THE
COLLECTOR." Jl YK.tR; SAMPLE vrtva.
not seo what Mr. Jlolliday saw because
my senses luck the absorptive principle
in their makeup.
On Eating Dinner is Chapter II. Not
much of a theme, but wliat's a theme?
Hero is a piece of "hilarious babble" in
Keene's Chop Ilouse when, although
Thous were virtuous, there was ale. It is
all more vivid than tho place itself. It
is written with all the senses at once. It
13 a literary and gustatorial mess served
by a chef who knows the "boys."
For sheer-literary whimsicality turn to
Chapter IV-, An Article Without an Idea.
This is in praise of verbal rambling. Tho
style's the thing. Lug in an idea if you
want to, but for heaven's sake put it in
a beautiful Easter egg. An egg's an egg,
but tho manner of eating it betrays the
man. The best of literature is gossip.
Look at Montaigne and Boswell and tho
other immortal leap frogs.
An Amorous Conspiracy is a story
that 0. 'xlenry might have written (al
thorgh turning to Chapter X. we find Mr.
Ilolliday discoursing on The Amazing
Failure of 0. llenry). One Murphy, an
illiterate student of the bass drum, con
ceives tho Rostandesquc-Cyrano-Chrislian
idea of getting three or four people, in
cluding a pen flourishing bartender, to
write his love letters. An old theme
turned by the author into something ex
quisitely human and humorous, with an
"unexpected ending." "See, I can do it,
too!" says Ilolliday, who when he has
finished hops over to Henry James or
Well, wo could ramble on forever
about tho freshness, hilarity, humor,
acuteness and beautiful style of Broome
Street Straws, for I never review a book
of Ilolliday's that I do not catch his
manner. lie is a veritable glutton bo
fore the banquet of everyday life and his
pores sweat the relish of it.
BKOOME STREET STRAWS. By Robert
Cortes Holliday. Gcorgo II. Doran
La Fayette Can Stand It
TX77TII books, as with people, hanoU
some is as handsome" does. Witli
La Fayette in America, by Octavia Rob
erts, is a sightly volume but it doesn't.
The letterpress is beautiful and tho illus
trations, which are reproductions from
old woodcuts and engravings, arc most
interesting. But the narrative itself, de
scribing La Fayette's two visits to Amer
ica at 20 and at 07, is horribly sentimen
tal, while the historical present as the
author uses it only aggravates, this com
plaint. "A snag it proves to be that has
so rudely broken the voyage"; or "Now
the Ohio receives him on her breast."
The passages from the letters tho
author has selected for quotation are
chiefly the more sentimental passages from
the letters written to his wife. "Let us
imagine ourselves lehind the chair of
Adrienno La Fayette, the joyful, trem
bling Marquise" as she reads her letters
"There i3 ono that must have made the
bright eyes of the little Marquise shine
with joy, that must have been read and
reread threadbare to her parents, to her
sisters, perhaps playfully to the baby
"Perhaps playfully to the baby Anas
tasia." It will be seen that with what may
bo a commendable fear of departing from
strict history and known facts the author
rarely makes a direct and positive state
ment, but resorts to "perhaps" and
"doubtless," "more than likely" and
"must have beens."
"Doubtless the good Baron's response
was more brief." "Doubtless he laughed
with Madison." "It is more than likely
that his kind host spoke French." "I
think he must have paused in the old mar
ket place." "Monticello must have been
a charming place to visit." "The gratifi
cation which La Fayette must have felt."
"In his chivalry lie must liave gone out of
his way to treat Mrs. Jackson kindly."
The effect of this kind of writing is to
make the reader doubtful, to sav the least.
N. P. D.
WITH LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA. By
Octavia Roberts. Boston: Houghton,
As Ever, Mrs. Humphry Ward
SAX ROIIMER rises to remark that
his slory Dope is not based on tho
Billcc Carlton case, as its publishers, Rob
ert M. McBride & Co., had announced
and as unquestionably appeared. Mr.
Rohnier is open to the inference that the
case was based upon Dope, for he says he
had been at work on the story some weeks
when Miss Carlton died.
MRS. WARD'S Helena is the inces
santly New "Woman from the new
est of angles. Poured molten in her un
formed girlhood into the fiery vat of war,
she emerges a type so different in her at
titude toward society, so startlingly un
accountable in her possibilities for the fu
ture that she might be the creature of a
What the intrenched world will do to
her, what she will do to the intrenched
world, would be worth living more than
mortal span to see.
Wlmt Mrs. Ward does to her is both in
teresting and revealing. Mrs. Ward has
always been fcarle33 in confronting
Woman Rampant. A quiet acceptance
of tho absolutely inevitable is no slignt
weapon in the fight against change. With
Mrs. Ward it deceives us by an appear
ance of sympathetic understanding. She
paints her heroine well. Beautiful, im
pulsive, headstrong Ilelena, all the forces
in her matured by the unchecked freedom,
tho stimulating, developing work of tho
war, is reined iu sharply at its end, when
she is placed under the guardianship of
Lord Buntingford, twice her age but
handsome, of an engaging melancholy and
as strongwilled as ho is. He spends all
his time and thought upon this perplex
ing, enchanting ward of his.
But she is not thrilled by the attention.
"That is the way women have always been
taken in," she said stubbornly. "Men
fling them scraps to keep them quiet. But
as to the real feast liberty to discover tho
world for themselves, make their own ex
perimentsno, thank you!" And again:
"But I won't take anybody's else moral
sense for judge. We've got to overhaul
that sort of thing from top to bottom."
It is the clash of two geneiations, two
views of life, the eternal clash, in a more
virulent form than ever before. "The
unrest in her was tho same unrest that was
driving men everywhere and women, too
into industrial disturbance and moral
revolt. The old is done with; and the
Tree of Life needs to be well shaken be
fore the new fruit will drop " What shall
be done with these women "who have no
use any longer for the reticence of tho
past, who desire to know all they possibly
can about themselves, their own thoughts
and sensations, their own peculiarities nnd
Mrs. Ward knows perfectly well what
she will do. It is really quite stupefying,
her calm, impervious assurance in the
face of this staggering problem. She will
not yield to this young, mad, new world.
She will deny that it has a new psychol
ogy and must have new solutions for its
old problems, which vary so little funda
mentally in character, no matter how far
they change their outer forms.
The beginning excites and tantalizes.
This is new and heady wine ! How drunk
a Russian could become on it! What
ruddy, ill-considered libations he would
pour upon the ground! But no. Out
come the old, old bottles. And in goes
the wine from a steady hand. Ilelena
falls in love with Lord Buntingford, not
knowing what is the matter with her (oh,
the delicious, maidenly romance of that
atavistic touch), while several engaging
youths are in love with her. But there is
a Mystery beneath the proud lord's de
meanor. It takes shape along creakily
familiar lines. Ilelena falls out of lovo
very properly and marries her most eligi
ble and interesting suitor.
"Marry, my dear child and bring up
chihhen," said Lord Buntingford bluntly.
"That's the chief duty of Englishwomen
It is the ancient answer. "Love and a
child's clinging mouth .and the sweetness
of a Darby and Joan old age for these all,
but the perverted women had always
lived and would always live."
It is an easy answer for an author with
a young, superlatively beautiful heroine
on her hands. But there arc other women.
There must be other answers. And some
how there is an uneasy sense that Helena
is ami iuicu wuu lermeniing questions. - -
M. P. A.
HELENA. By Mas.
Dodd, Mead & Co.
Love Letters Better Lost
UNDER tho title of The Professor's
Love-Life, the story of Ronsby
Maldclewith serves as an example of tho
perils of letter publishing. The preface
credits the letters with lyricism and all
that one looks for in love letters, but both
title and preface are misleading. The
"professor" is a man of 2C with a job in a
newspaper office, and the lyricism is
warped with a strain of perhaps neural
gia. Tho cough, however, develops into
consumption and it is evident that tho
documental tragedy should have been left
to its own dignity and not served up
smartly as a Christmas present for maiden
ladies. This is a book for which tho
author is not to blame. If he had lived
he might have wondered that Iris "Kath
crine" had married him (as she would
have done) after such letters. He is such
a very grave young man. "Unutterable
poverty," he writes, "I fear will ever be
the lot of the millions, dishonest gains and
arrogance the preeminence of the few.
Still there are Homer and Plato, Beet
hoven and Shakespeare, and Goethe, others
loo many to name, and all nature, and
you." Oh, we've all written them just
like it! But most of us have been saved by
the kindly oblivion of the waste basket.
J. C. M.
THE IROFESSOR'S LOVE-LIFE. By
Ronsby Maldclewith. The Macmillan
Happy Family Papers
THE art of the essay, gently discursive
and urbanely humorous, offers
itself with no small degree of excellence
in Frances Lester Warners collection en
titled Endicott and I. These essays ram
ble delightfully along much as ono might
expect a fireside conversation to go if tho
principal raconteur were nimble witted
and fully capable of catching the pleas
ant, homely glamour that enhances the
commonplaces of existence. Miss Warner
describes the pleasures of the home circle
orchestra, tho whole family getting to
gether for a night of music; the comical
possibilities of sketching various scenes
without trying to exert any genuine
draughtsman's ability; the difficulties and
virtues of conducting family prayers in
an age when such ancient practices aro
steadily diminishing in visible impor
tance; the humorous attempts to hold the
floor in conversation ; the important prob
lem of "reducing;" chess; the joys of
fishing, and half a dozen other interests
ami customs of the family that finds its
chief enjoyment in its own company.
ENDICOTT AND L By Frances Lester
Warner. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
fTTVHE printers on a big newspaper
never Know wnai u is 10 uunger
for reading matter," confides the Century
Company, going on to tell how a "story"
made up of selections from White Shad
ows in the South Seas so absorbed the
man who was setting it as to cause him to
miss his lunch. We don't know, though,
about the general affirmation. Not all
copy is as hunger satisfying as excerpts
from Frederick O'Brien's writings or as
a few dozen underdone paragraphs like
STILL DOMINANT IN THE FICTION FIELD
THE FOUR HORSEMEN
OF THE APOCALYPSE
By VICENTE BLASCO IBANEZ
The novel in greatest demand in the public libraries
of the United States, according to the latest
compilation of librarians' reports in The Bookman.
By the same author MARE NOSTRUM
These books are now obtainable from your local bookseller
(each, $i.go) or may be ordered direct from
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