Furious Young Man. By I. A. R. Wylie. (Cassell. 7s. 6d.) Picture of Nobody. By Philip Owens. (Cape. 7s. 6c1.) See How They Run. By Jerrard Ticket!. (Heinemann. 7s. 6d.) Murder Isn't Easy. By Richard Hull. (Faber. 7s. 6d.)
Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT
Furious Young Man is a vivid novel dealing with Russian and English life. The story itself is a good one and over and above the story is the intense interest of two conflicting views of life.
Torrens Wyatt, a young man of good family and rebellious disposition, is deeply
resentful of the ipequalities of life. He identifies himself with the unemployed and after a scrap with the police takes refuge .in Russia. He is warmly welcomed as the leader of an insurrection in his own country.
In Russia he conies to know Mora Pavlovna, an authentic revolutionary :worker, and MikaiI Andreyevitch, who is a member of the Ogpu. Their lives cross and intermingle and we get a realistic and seemingly objective picture of present-day life in Russia and its effect both on Russians and the strangers amongst them. It is an impressive picture, though grim and terrible.
It is extraordinary to watch the deli.berate suppression of human and, what up to now has been considered civilised, motives in obedience to an iron dogmatic system. It becomes clear how difficult it is for a civilised person to-day to understand, to converse with, a convinced communist, when once that system has full control of the individual. It was that very sense of justice and humanity that got Wyatt into trouble in England, mainly because he was nut to smash and not to construct, that led him into his difficulties
• in Russia. A remarkable and moving novel.
Mr. Owens has written a penetrating satire on life coMmercialised, vulgarised, and mass-produced. Picture of Nobody gives us the struggles of a young poet, named Shakespere, to get a hearing. His genius was admitted by his friends, but his struggles were bitter and long. We are introduced into literary life as its exists
(Continued at foot of next column.) to-day, or to a section of it, and though it is a satiric picture of that society it does not seem to be unduly divorced from truth. There is the private press that undertakes to publish his work; its editor; the habits of those that frequent it; its failure.
Efforts are made by various friends to help young Shakespere, but in the end it was the rascally Captain Oldcastle (once his landlord, then an absconding commercial traveller and ultimately, under the name of Falstaff, a successful advertising magnate) who came nearest to success. But the price of success was high, for Hamlet was considered to be too much like poetry for the modern taste and had to be re-written as an historical thriller.
Famous names are taken to emphasise the satire, and no one should be deterred by this, for the humour and penetrating detachment with which modern life is depicted make it an amusing and stimulating book.
See How They Run is a longish novel that begins extremely well. Nicola Lenkc was the young daughter of an Austrian colonel who, like so many of his compatriots, had been ruined by the war. She was sent to England to be educated and chance threw her in the way of Miss Conway, a lively middle-aged spinster who adopted her during her years in England. Miss Conway's nephew, Peter Conway, plays an important part in the story.
Though a charming child when she arrived in this country she seems to have been thoroughly corrupted by her stay. After several years she returns to Vienna, discovers her father's poverty and the tremendous sacrifices he had made to keep her at school in England, but it was too late. She loved him and tried to be kind to him as he lay dying of illness brought on by the privations he had undergone for her sake. But faith and morals and all understanding of his standards and ambition for her were fatally undermined. She married, but deserts her husband and we are given the customary sentimental picture of her life with her lover. Shallowness and sentimentality spoil what might have been a very much better book.
Murder Isn't Easy is a reasonably entertaining murder story. There are three documents, notes or diaries, written severally by three men who together run an
advertising agency. They jar on each other and one day two are found dead in their office-chairs. The survivor's notes of all the circumstances appear to cover the facts and solve the mystery. But then the typist appears on the scene and completes the story. She ends by saying: "So that's how I came to take up a literary career, and while murder may not be easy, I must say that I thnk writing is. You just go stra'g'it on."
Vie confess that whilst amusing at the start this ability for going straight on is not without its disadvantages.