IT seems to me ironic that Manuel Komroff should be in Hollywood supervising the fiim of an earlier story at the moment when his latest book. I, the Tiger (Coward-McCann, $2.00), makes its appearance. I, the Tiger is the autobiography of Ninebranch, who was trapped by Zeller (he ‘brings ‘em back alive’), sold to a circus, then imprisoned in a steam-heated zoo, and finally shipped off to act in the animal pictures of Hollywood. In his shifting captivity, Ninebraach comes to see a good deal of America ; he grows fond and hateful of the circus troupe who companion him, and wise in the ways of the human beings who peer through his bars. But in the night he longs for the jungle, and then he passes judgment — the judgment of a Kropotkin — upon a world which practises cruelties unknown to the brotherhood of beasts. Outwardly this book is our long-needed antidote against animal trainers, big-game hunters, and popgun lecturers; inwardly it is a kind of stinging ointment to make us more sensitive to the crudities of man-made civilization. The story moves rapidly, unexpectedly. And when it comes to Hollywood the scene is set for humor which is by turns burlesque and scathing.
Long Pennant, by Oliver La Farge (Houghton Mifflin, $2.50), supports my prophecy of a year ago that it was high time for fiction of a romantic tendency. Here is a novelist going back to historical sources — privatecring in the War of 1812 — for his material, and then building up his atmosphere and developing his characters by the introspective stream-of-consciousness method. The brig Glimpse, a privateer, three years out of Chog’s Cove, Rhode Island, existing precariously on prize money and the captain’s ability to outsail British frigates, makes a capture which comes dangerously close to piracy. Then peace is declared, and with gold under cover, the long pennant flying overhead, and the murky suspicion of wrongdoing in certain minds, the Glimpse comes home to Rhode Island. There the men settle back into the old grooves, and there return the deserters and castaways of the crew, bringing with them the forces of retribution. The yarn is woven in a popular pattern: one after another the chief members of the crew disclose, half in thought, half by action, their own particular part in the cruise, and as these separate strands are knitted together the story gains in vividness and suspense. I feel that Mr. La Farge is more at his ease in New’ England than in New Orleans; I feel that his Indian lore is a shade intrusive, and I feel a distinct inequality in his fortune-telling of the various men. These are points to consider in a highly readable book.