The Atlantic Bookshelf: Conclusion

A wrap up of book reviews from Edward Weeks

OVERHEARD in the Book Trade. . . . Dollar books are being put to the test, and from early reports those by established authors—as, for instance, The Autocracy of Mr. Parham, by H. G. Wells (Doubleday, Doran), and Very Good, Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse (Doubleday, Doran) — are going well; those by new writers indifferently. One trouble is that dollar books themselves are being undersold. Sporting-goods stores are selling copies of Bobby Jones’s book on golf at fifty cents, and the United Cigar chain have a new Edgar Wallace mystery on their counters at the same figure. Probably we shall have no answer to the experiment until after the Christmas sale. . . . It appears that Owen Wister’s Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship (Macmillan) was recalled because of an anecdote unflattering to a lady of Charleston, S. C. Pages 100-104 were cut out and in their stead was substituted a Baedeker account of the town’s beauty, with no gender involved. . . . The high tide of war books has now ebbed, leaving on our shelves what I should call four real additions to a library (names given on request). . . . The manager of Boston’s biggest bookstore gave an acute reason for this summer’s depression in bookselling. ’This year,’he said, ’there ’s been no All Quiet on the Western Front, and no Specialist to bring people into the shop where we could probably sell them other books as well. Give us one good title and we’ll do the rest.’ The books he mentioned both have sold close to the half- million mark. . . . A professor of English at Rutgers has come out with a list of the sixty best novels in history, and has thereby reminded a lot of people of the reading they have left undone. The question of what one book to take to a desert island arose the other day and a Radcliffe graduate said she’d take a cookbook. . . . Ho, hum, and that reminds me of another story. But the fact is that I shall soon be leaving on vacation, taking with me, not the professor’s sixty novels, but a cherished list I wish to read or reread as the case may be. They are Katherine Mansfield’s Journal, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Keats’s Poems and Letters, Professor J. L. Lowes’s essay Of Reading Books, Laments for the Living, by Dorothy Parker, and an advance copy of Books: Their Place in a Democracy, by R. L. Duffus. And a check book! . . . A correspondent (more are welcome) writes me to this effect: —

In the July issue you speak of the publishers falling upon evil days — why not? They persist in sending gratis books that those of us who really love books must pay big prices for, and then editors turn these volumes over to hack writers who fill the Sunday papers with ‘trash’ concerning them. Let us each and all pay a fair price for books, cut off the deadheads, let none write criticisms that are not technically and culturally fitted for the work, and the publishers will find their business improving.

I pass this on for what it is worth.