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Gutheim, Frederick; Tietjens, Janet; Tesar, Franklin (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Vol. XXV, No. 1 (November 1928)

Steegemuller, Francis J.; et al.
Books,   pp. 23-32 ff.


Page 23


WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE
23
GOODBYE WISCONSIN. By GLENWAY
WESCOTT.     New    York:    Harper   &
Brothers. 362 pp. $2.50.
Good-Bye Wisconsin by GLENWAY WES-
COTT consists of a forty-five page impression of
modern Wisconsin, and of ten short stories.
It would seem that the author had been liv-
ing, for a time, in the south of France and in
New York; he has come to spend Christmas
at home in Claron, Wisconsin. He tells us
what, definitely, about the station at Milwaukee
attracts his attention; what are the most strik-
ing qualities of the crowds awaiting trains. He
sketches vividly his fellow-travellers in general,
his actual arrival in his parents' home, and the
town in which this home is. This last subject
affords him an opportunity to write of life, as
a whole, in the Wisconsin of this particular
decade of the twentieth century; he reveals
with fascinating vividness the transformation,
in this state, of the rustic into the provincial.
This section of the book is well done; the
style is, for the most part, sincere and forceful
with an unaffected simplicity. Occasionally a
strained metaphor appears; a romantic but far-
flung and weak image.
But the quality of this part of the book
which most impresses a reader interested in
modern America is the success with which the
author has revealed to us his psychology and its
results. He is a young man of intelligence who
has lived much abroad. When he returns to
the home of his youth his opinions concerning
this home, this Wisconsin, are definitely crystal-
lized and easily available. Here is Wisconsin
taking its proper place in the mind of an intel-
ligently travelled native. The value of such a
native's well-expressed comment is obvious.
The short stories in the book, however, are
not good. The style is bad. We find such
sentences as:  "The sky rolled from      side to
side like an animal in pain, outstretched on the
soft, saturated trees."  "The grass is like a
sponge dipped in vinegar and perfume." Side
by side with such extreme examples of bad ro-
mantic imagery we find equally extreme ex-
amples of tiring and outmoded "realism".
The structure of the stories is bad. They are
not wholes; they are combinations of unrelated
or incongruous elements. The situations are
often absurd without point, or sentimental
without force, or wearily "realistic" without
beauty or effect.
"For another book," says the author, "I
should like to learn to write  . . . with-
out slang, with precise equivalents instead of
idioms, a style of rapid grace for the eye
rather than sonority for the ear, in accordance
with the ebb and flow of sensation rather
than with intellectual habits, and out of
which myself, with my origins and my preju-
dices and my Wisconsin, will seem to have
disappeared."
Let him, rather, learn to write without over-
worked and stacatto attempts at "stark realism";
without absurdly affected romantic imagery.
Let him present characters in a sincere lan-
guage. Possibly these matters are included in
the self-consciousness which he seems desirous
of abandoning. If so, and if he succeeds, the
improvement will be great; the result will be
some genuinely fine writing.
-FRANCIS J. STEEGMOLLER.
GOOD MORNING AMERICA. By CARL SAND-
BURG. New      York: Harcourt, Brace &    Co.
251 pp. $3.00.
I
CARL SANDBURG loves the prairies of the middle
west. He also admires the pioneers who scoured
and scouted them     some decades ago. There is a
certain thrill for him in the rattling of rivet-ham-
mers and the rush of big cities, but the progression
from   speed to more speed and more racket disquiets
him. He draws back from it and regrets it. About
facts he is less worried. In his vision of the twi-


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