Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 23, 1974 · Page 89
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 89

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 23, 1974
Page 89
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i »'f F*'»' r«-f ··'··TV r · ( r ·· r *·«·«· * » 4 * A Confused Farewell tfE'sH ^aaas saisaa anas Qixa snasn noon? 20^^ "FAREWELL, FRANK MERRIWELL," by George Zuckermu, E P. Dutton Co.,« J5 Since I had never heard of * George Zuckerman, the strong beginning of this novel surprised me pleasantly. Forrest Devers, a fictional Pulitzer Prize journalist, is a clever and witty protagonist, and Zuckerman weaves his story line right along, through Devers. But finally the story fails, as does Devers, whose cleverness is like his mention of the Pulitzer: infrequent but consistent, almost humble but finally predictable. The writer seems to be the one-punch, ex-sem- » i-pro dreamer trying to make his child over into a two-fisted pro-doer; the child is both Devers's family and Frank Merriwell. That' is only a guess. But Zuckerman's narrator-protagonist is in (fictional) fact a man whose profession has enabled him to hobnob with the greats in journalism, drama, and sport. He --. Devers -- passes over these known figures (Runyon and Ruth, the Kennedys) quantitatively 'but not qualitatively. That is good, but it's as if rubbing shoulders with the famous did not permit him !c , to know them well, but got his foot inside the door of their treasured friendship. Not much, perhaps, yet more than your average man is able to brag about. (On their first meeting, "Devers gave his son-in-law the smile he had given to Jack Kennedy. Herbert responded with a quantum of a smile.") But Devers is neither a bore nor a boor; he simply takes his shoulder brushing seriously, and implies here that Herbert is the boor for not doing the same.) Yet it is the fictional heroes that Devers knows best. He grew up a reader, and while his children are better educated, perhaps, they continue to look up to him as the knowledgeable, intellectual, and even modern patriarch. Devers' name dropping does not stop with men (Zero Mostel, Drysdale, Jolson) but goes on to colleges: his friends are not so much Charlie Spencer or Jack Fallon as they are Columbia '37 or Furman '42. While Devers is no Jay Gatsby, he is an ed-, ucated friend of Gatsby's, in charge of the invitations for one of Gatsby's more serious parties; like:/'You know,' old chap -- good people." (Devers himself is South Carolina '39,1 think, but am not sure. I got tired of it all.) The real theme of the novel, however, is death -death and impotency. And like the tangential matters and characters of the book, it comes off well at first, but falls short of any real success, even of any real sense of accomplishment. Like his protagonist-narrator, Zuckerman almost resents the fact that the aging process affects him, too, and while there is at least a superficial ' understanding and completeness of this thematic material, a flaking out exists -- as if he aims for the artistic and philosophical dignity of a Conrad or a Hemingway, but lacks their profundity of power. These latter authors make us sympathize with and admire their fated people; Devers strikes sympathy but not our admiration. While the Conradian or Hemingway hero is clean and fatalistic, Zuckerman's Devers never forgets how muddy his soul is and, finally, he bears that deadly literary onus of sentimentality. He carries baggage labelled Understanding; but inside we find only the weapons of a swatter of numb wasps; Devers is the spirited imbiber of pain-killing CC rather than the convivial partaker of gin-calming resignation. The difference is between, again, a semi-pro living with his trade, and a pro dying with his art. Forrest Devers' brilliant but seldom seen son Miles asks "Have you given up, Dad?" Devers replies understandably, "Yeah. But I tried." Zuckerman can write, and well. Perhaps "Farewell, Frank Merriwell" merely is not his big novel. Peter D. Zivkovic Mr. Zivkovic is an associated professor of literature and Poet-in-Residence at Fairmont State College. 'Housewife 9 revisited "FALLING BODIES," by Sue Kaufman, Doubleday _,v?7-95 . . , . . Sue Kaufman is mosV'fa-' mous for her novel "Diary of a Mad Housewife," which was made into a fine motion picture. Her latest novel, "Falling Bodies," is a real delight, and there is no reason why it should not be just as popular as its famous predecessor. It has the ingredients necessary for an ex : cellent novel: an interesting story, vivid characters, and effortless writing. It is that , all too rare kind of novel which one is reluctant to put '.., down. The story focuses on Emma Sohier, New York housewife, who has just gone through a "rough year" of sickness and anxiety, and who now must confront even more challenging problems. · She hopes to recapture the love of her eleven year old son Benjy, she has to pacify her tempermental Latin- American maid, Maria, and ,,, she works to save her successful marriage by confronting her spoiled, eccen- tric husband, Harold. Above all, Emma desperately tries to .hang on to her sanity, so that she will not be driven to the fate of the suicides, those "falling bodies," which give the novel its title. One would think, from reading a resume of the plot, that this novel would be intensely tragic, but such is not the case. It is profoundly comic. Time and again, in depicting the characters, scenes, and conversations, Miss Kaufman reveals her sure comic touch. Like all great comedy, her novel does have a serious core; in this case it is the position of the sensitive intelligent, married woman in the hostile world of contemporary America. It is to Miss Kaufman's credit that she has incorporated this theme, unobtrusively, into a fine novel, and that, in the character of Emma Sohier, she has created a fascinating, sensitive, complex woman, rather than a mere symbol. She is a character with whom the reader can readily identify, the kind of woman that one would like to know in real life. This novel speaks more effectively and more eloquently on the frustrations facing the sensitive American woman than the numerous polemical essays and tracts which currently flood the market. There is no reason why this novel should not be made into a movie just as fine as "Diary of a Mad Housewife." In fact, as I was reading the novel, I visualized Richard Benjamin as Harold and Carrie Snodgrass as Emma. (By the . way, what ever did happen to Carrie Snodgrass?) I heartily recommend this book, both to women and men, to husbands and wives; to wives so that they will realize that they are not alone in their frustrations, and to husbands, so that, hopefully, they will be more sensitive to the problems facing their own wives. Trevor Owen Dr. Owen is an associate . professor of English at Davis and Eikins College. Puzzle 32P EI1E8 SDH iSQES 30S * CRYPTOQUIP C R W U M U I W B L R C L U J N L W F L W U M I A L A V R U L W I V R B R W , " U I J G F R D W I D N M U L G G M F U I W B I ? SSBE @ED ISE DEH-EES EHHEfin asa EEDS @EE£ SEES SSEH DsxBu HSKO 2fflsca sanati Anwer fer Sanity, Joe II, Cryptaajadp: ] USEFUL INFORMATION: AGRONOMY IS THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FIELP PRODUCTION AND SOIL 1 MANAGEMENT SSEPS EBEBE E SEDC EHD ACston llanaad M AejMMM * ^f^^fftf/g^m 1"- Bottom Trousers" 11 Latvian CwDB 17 Hourly I* i OaMte** M Wings MTripptog 0 Unique 2S Immortal- isedin song MDnai material IS "-Journey" 21 Glen Miller hit SS Storm center 11 French resort 32 Girl of song 340'Casef ·35 Com- pail reading SS Carbon diamond 17 Straw broom JSNeitof fhtiitintB ttPoe's "radiant maiden" 44 Ironed 4S Report SSGkiof song 51 Letter B Queen of heaven 54 Rajah's wife SSHaymesor Powell 5t "Moonlight n SS Ram down 11 Style of type (abbr.) CUbetanoz S3 Popular ·Oflg ^"·6 SISaikn ·7 Approaches SI Respect 71Jabbed 72 Poetess 7S Roundworm 77 Goddess of infatuation SS Charitable gift SI Threshold S3 Decorative transfers S4 Portico SS Pintail ducks 87 Plan of town site 81 Miss Claire SS Senses SI But wiser? «. Astounding M Inferior parish officer S? Sign of healing SI Wear away HI Drunkards MIEmbla's mate IMSiouan Indians IN Land measure · 117 Injection IN Famous general 111 Rudy ' VaQeebtt 114 "Alexander's -» 117 General tenor 111 Venetian cabby 121 Numbered highway 121 A. Belgian marble 122 Persia 123 Low Latin (abbr.) 124 Church official 125 Defunct 121 Girl's name 127 Sweet potatoes 4 Hamlet's hyn» S Ignoble « Sierra 7 Siamese coin · New England lake 1 Obstacle M Word in Mark 15:34 11 Green- swards 12 OU religious 12 ''- Blue" M Small particle 15 Musical groups KFarm buildings 17 Flexible C tailed Bin or Tom 44 English rkaMSV^w Quaker ISSmaU 47 Preceded in .time a Spree 4S Congers 51 Marsh marigold S3 "Pretty Little Poppy" SSRail 1.1- ji- uuua $7 Indian mahogany SS Bearded · Goads S3 Member of the family M Alaska dty jl?!SJ. N White Z4"_'Em All" 27 Muck 21 Broadway hit 33 Mild oath ttBjrf 37 Slight breese 38 '.'TOl We Again" nickname NAndent chariots 71 Wisconsin dty 72 News agency 73 Girl's name -74 Actress Raines 121 Ruminants * Tennyson's 71 Sharp .DOWN 1 Popular song 2 Girl of song 3 Fit "lily maid ofAstolat" 41 "- Of Spain" 42 Charles Lamb taste 1 TSRing, as a bell 7S Comfort SJRich fabric MYeBowandsj Coral ; :^3; N Supported ,. nomina- " ' tion IS Scarlett's SS Shackled S2 Rodents $4 "The Mark of-" IS Perfectly N Bittern's cry N Form of instrument talbhw IN Garments lllCckatial tdenoat (·bbr.) 1« Valuable violin :..-:··. S3New .:· , : England dty i WS Straight drink 117 Water MS Cum- _ m European j. rt»«f tS 112Quechuan Indian ^ 115 South- ^^ western river USA friable, earthy clay 111 A nucleic add (abbr.) Average time of Mtatkt: N infantes. 24m CHARLESTON. W. VA. June 23,1974, Sunday Gazette-Mail

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