Edna Ferber | Critical Review by Isabel Currier

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Edna Ferber.
This section contains 506 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Isabel Currier

Critical Review by Isabel Currier

SOURCE: "Manhattan Summer Music," in New York Herald Tribune Books, February 13, 1938, p. 5.

In the following review, Currier favorably assesses the characterizations and plotlines of "Nobody's In Town" and "Trees Die at the Top," the two novellas in Nobody's In Town.

"Everybody who is anybody" leaves New York in the summertime, seeking escape from the heat. After they have gone "The Little People … claim the New York that is rightfully theirs." Anonymously, they continue the routine of their days to keep the city of the world fed and thirst-free and clean. The great machinery of massed life never stops, and those who keep it running are unaware that "Nobody's In Town." They are unaware, too, of the intergrooving of their lives to form the arteries and veins of the urban heart of America.

You see them function in the complete human circuit that is modern New York through a series of vignettes forming one of two short novels in Edna Ferber's new book [Nobody's In Town]. A successful young man in Wall Street is left alone in his East Side apartment when his wife goes to Europe. The individuals who insure his summer comfort appear, as in a kaleidoscope, in control of the reservoir providing water for his shower, the Washington Market in which a retailer shrewdly maneuvers to procure raspberries for his dinner, the incinerator disposing of his garbage. The links binding their personal lives to his are forged swiftly and brilliantly. In Central Park, he finds young people dancing and making love. From his East Side apartment, the colored cook hurries to Harlem to the flamboyant summer blooming of a modern jungle, out of which the folk music of a nation echoes around the world. The vitality of this hugely patterned tapestry is realized through Miss Ferber's clear focus on a section of humanity, to bring it into perspective as the entity of humanity.

Contrasts of a different, but related tempo are in "Trees Die at the Top," which matches the peaks of life in America today with the peaks scaled by pioneer forefathers. The reader is taken on two journeys from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The first trip to California is with the Forty-Niners, their wives and children. It is a painful and heroic progress of eighteen miles a day, rain or shine, to complete the conquest of three thousand miles of wilderness. The second journey is in the company of descendants of the Forty-Niners. Parents, children, nurse and personal maid are on a de luxe train which is straddling the continent. In its drawing rooms they endure, with self-conscious nobility, the hardships of air-conditioning, night noises at stationstops, over-rich food and underexercise for thirty-six luxurious hours. The author's purpose is bold and bitter and brilliant. Out of the magnificent vitality of America's pioneers has come a race of pampered softies. She gives us our own generation—flabby, bloodless and frustrate.

Both stories are vividly characterized, and realized with the vigor and human awareness which make Edna Ferber a compelling storyteller.

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This section contains 506 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Isabel Currier
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