'Louder Please!'

by Earnest Elmo Calkins. Boston: The Atlantic Monthly Press. 1924. 8vo. x+260 pp. Illustrated. $2.50.
TOWARD the end of the last century there prevailed among literary observers in New York an impression that in the bright dictionary of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, there was no such word as fail. That was because there had come out of Galesburg and Knox College a little group of remarkable men, including Sam McClure, John Phillips, and John Finlay. These young men - they were young when they came to New York —rushed in where angels feared to tread and got away with it. McClure established McClure’s Magazine, famous and very potent for a number of important years. Phillips was connected with it and afterward was editor of the American Magazine. Perhaps Finlay also was concerned with these ventures, but it is certain that he developed an extraordinary power to impress other persons with his ability to discharge the duties of difficult jobs, so that he got a long succession of such jobs to do, and did them, and is still at it.
It seems another youth came out of Galesburg about that same time, Earnest Calkins, who also made his way in New York and lives there now. He was longer coming to his own than those others, but that was because, or partly because, he had a serious handicap. He was deaf. Having finally beaten the obstacles that hindered him, he tells about it in the book called ‘Louder Please!' You might think it was a book about deafness and nothing else, but there is always something else to deafness. It is only an incident in life. Calkins tells about his life, including the incident. His story is a true story, and if you are old enough you will know it is true because you wall remember the world he describes and the fixtures and people in it. He tells about the books he read in his childhood, books that accumulated in houses sixty years ago, and mostly, judged by contemporary standards, very dull reading.
Of course Calkins’s deafness was the chief factor in determining what he did. He got along through Knox College and got a steer there toward newspapers and printing. Out of that he developed a disposition toward advertising, the writing of advertisements, and the placing of them in the papers. Those were primitive times in that business, but what he knew about it brought Calkins to New York to find a job, and he found one finally, after hardship and some malnutrition, with a German Jew who ran a trade paper for butchers. Extraordinary were Calkins’s experiences in that employment, which lasted for several years because he did not dare to change it. But finally, proceeding from one engagement to another, he came to what endurance, courage, hard work, and character had earned for him.
The book is valuable because it is so true, so good a record of end-of-the-century life as Calkins knew it. What be says about deafness is true also, very much to the point, and communicated in a cheerful spirit.
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