Edna Ferber | Critical Review by James MacBride

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Edna Ferber.
This section contains 424 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by James MacBride

Critical Review by James MacBride

SOURCE: "Thirty-One by Ferber," in The New York Times Book Review, February 16, 1947, p. 3.

In the following review of One Basket, MacBride praises the collection as representing Ferber "at her best."

Miss Ferber's short stories (her blurbist informs us solemnly) are required reading in schools and colleges. For once, it is pleasant to agree with the publicity department. Selected by the author herself from over a hundred published items, the stories in this volume will repay the closest study of the fledgling who would go and do likewise. For the confirmed novel-reader who shuns slick paper, they are vigorous examples of an author at the top of her form—a virtuoso lightness of phrasing, a shrewd ear for dialogue, plus real understanding of the standard problems Americans have faced in the past and must go on facing. Those who have found Miss Ferber's full-length output a bit cine-colored of late should take pleasure in rediscovering her at her best.

The first story in the collection was published in 1913 ("The Woman Who Tried to Be Good"); the last, a rather-too-sand-papered study of a career girl's heart-throbs ("The Barn Cuts Off the View") appeared in 1940. Most of the well-remembered, much-anthologized, well-loved yarns are in between: "Every Other Thursday," "The Gay Old Dog," "Mother Knows Best," "Trees Die at the Top," "The Afternoon of a Faun," "No Room at the Inn," and "Old Man Minick," which served as a spring-board for one of Miss Ferber's first plunges into Broadway. These titles alone would make the collection worth while. Most of them have worn well with the years; all of them will repay a second reading.

As always, Miss Ferber is at her best when she stays closest to the milieu of her formative years—when she was carving out the raw material of her art as a reporter in the Middle West. Her back-street Chicago is more convincing than her Riviera romances; her prairie mornings will stay in your memory long after you've forgotten her station-wagon repartee. But even the most severely hand-tailored of her stories is much more than merely entertaining: if her matriarchs are terrifying and completely real, her starcrossed women executives, faded ingenues, and freshly lacquered adolescents are no less human under their patter. Sometimes, as in her novels, Miss Ferber's sheer, exuberant talent, her flair for the theatrical, outruns her material—with a consequent loss of realism. But even here, the emotion is honest. Her effective range is much narrower than these titles would indicate—yet every story is written from her heart.

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This section contains 424 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by James MacBride
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