• U.S.

Books: Anderson Embers

2 minute read

No SWANK — Sherwood Anderson— Centaur Press ($2).

When Sherwood Anderson walked out of his job as manager of a paint factory he wanted to write books. His ambition was accomplished but not satisfied years ago. U. S. readers and critics rank him high for such Americana as Winesburg, Ohio, A Story Teller’s Story, a few others. If there were a U. S. literary pantheon he would be in it. But Author Anderson, like many a lesser man, goes on talking when he is no longer on the air. His latest book, characteristically entitled No Swank, is a collection of 17 articles, some of which have been published in various magazines or newspapers. Anderson lovers will want the little book for their library, will take it as kindly as it was meant.

Whether or not he has a “style,” Sherwood Anderson’s style of writing—pondering, whittling, awkwardly echolalic—is all his own. No Swank is trademarked on every page. With the late great Chekhov, Anderson shares the faculty of the truthful blurt: “Almost always, when one of your friends gets kicked down stairs, you’re glad. It is a nasty fact, but it is a truth.” No matter how sarcastic he feels, he cannot be nasty about it: “There is too much of this bunk about a man having a mind because he has read the classics. It was not Mr. Will Shakespeare’s fault that Mr. Tunney, after he had retired from the ring with his million, began delivering lectures about Mr. Will Shakespeare’s plays.” And though he cannot cast more than a flickering light on the puzzling questions he cheerfully mopes over, there is sometimes a reassuring enthusiasm in his incoherence: “You have to be an American to understand the Americans. I swear you do.”

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