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Willa Cather Gets a Bad Review (Vanity Fair, 1913)

Writing his review of "O Pioneers", DRESS and VANITY FAIR book critic Henry Brinsley wrote:

"Miss Willa Cather in "O Pioneers!" (O title!!) is neither a skilled storyteller nor the least bit of an artist. And yet by the end of the book, something has happened in the readers mind that leaves him grateful...There isn't a vestige of 'style' as such: for page after page one is dazed at the ineptness of the medium and the triviality of the incidents...And the secret of this is the persistence throughout of a single fine quality of the author - her extraordinary sincerity."

 

Three Brilliant Young Writers (Vanity Fair, 1921)

The VANITY FAIR reviews of Stephen Vincent Benet's (1898 - 1943) book The Beginning of Wisdom, F. Scott Fitzgerald's (1896 - 1940) The Beautiful and Damned

"The years following the war in America have been remarkable for the rise in popular and critical estimation of a small group of novelists who represent a revolt against the stillness and complacency of commercialized literature."

 

Dashiel Hammett Fights the Fascists (Yank Magazine, 1945)

Dashiel Hammett (1894 - 1961) had a pretty swell resume by the time World War Two came along. He had a number of celebrated novels and short stories published as well as a few well-paying gigs writing in Hollywood. It was during this period, in the Thirties, that he had created some of the wonderful characters that are still remembered to this day, such as Sam Spade ("The Maltese Falcon") and Nick and Nora Charles ("The Thin Man"). During the war, it was rare but not unheard of, for an older man with such accomplishments to enlist in the army -and that is just what he did. This one page article clearly spells out Hammett's period serving on an Alaskan army base; his slow climb from Buck Private to Sergeant; his difficulty with officers and the enjoyment of being anonymous.

Accompanying the article is a black and white image of the writer wearing Uncle Sam's olive drab, herringbone twill -rather than the tell-tale tweed he was so often photographed wearing.

 

P.G. Wodehouse: Master of American Slang (American Legion Weekly, 1919)

At the time this profile first appeared in 1919, P.G Wodehouse (1904 - 1975) had recently resigned his post as the drama critic for VANITY FAIR in order to realize his ambitions as a novelist and playwright. This article revealed to all Wodehouse's keen interest in American slang and American comic strips.

 

D.H. Lawrence's Genius (Current Opinion, 1922)

"Gifted, but perverse" was the opinion of this reviewer, who considered the whole of D. H. Lawrence' writings up to 1922 in this review for CURRENT OPINION:

"He is like those modern sculptors who, feeling that civilization has reached it's last refinement, and that there is no more work left for observation to do, have gone back to the crude beginnings of stone carving to learn again the essentials of their art..."

 

One of the First Reviews of 'Sons and Lovers' (Vanity Fair, 1913)

Later in the century there would be many ink-slingers to gush over the talents of D.H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930); but in 1913, the writer would simply have to bide his time and suffer the reviews that were printed in the society pages.

"It emphatically is not a book for the 'young person', and it is certainly a book that will make the older conservative wince a bit...nevertheless it is a study that was worth doing, and D.H. Lawrence has done it well. He has dealt with very real things in a way that leaves a distinctness of impression unequaled by nine books out of ten one picks up nowadays."

 


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