Untitled Book Review

EACH of the twenty-two stories in Winter Orchard and Other Stories, by Josephine Johnson (Simon and Schuster, $2.50), is little more than an incident, — and often an inconsequent one, considered superficially,— which, with her almost unfailing penetration, Miss Johnson transforms into the stuff of full, deep living, The raffling of a pie, a truant baker’s day in the country, a priest and a ragamuffin talking, become through her awareness and quick sympathy the great moments of life, yet are never malproportioned or overemphatic. And her mastery of mood in such a piece as ‘August Evening’ combines the craftsman’s perfect skill with consummate understanding. Not that these stories are entirely even as to merit— more than one, like ‘Dark’ and ‘Sure, That’s All . . .’ and ‘Mathilda,’ do not quite come off by reason of a faulty climax or a momentary lack of discrimination. In fact, the title piece and ‘The Quiet Day’ can scarcely be called short stories at all: the one is nearly pure description, the other an essay. Nevertheless, at twentyfive, Miss Johnson is by way of establishing herself in the front rank of American writers, granted a progressively increasing range in her instrument and experience.