“Contact!” is the first story by the author of “My A.E.F.” and in its every line testifies to the vital interest Miss Noyes had and has in the boys who won the war—whether American, French or English. So much one would know from a single rapid reading. A critic might guess that it would have been impossible as a first story if the author had not lived much abroad, as she has done since she was very much of a child. At Oxford, or in the home of Gaston Paris, or travelling around the globe, she received the foundation for the understanding sympathy which endeared her as “Petite” to her soldier boys. A critic might also aver that the steady moving forward of the action, joined to the backward progress, yet both done so surely, could not have been achieved without years of training. And in this respect the narrative is little short of being a tour de force. But, as a matter of fact. Miss Noyes dreamed the whole thing! Her antecedent experience proved greater than mere technique.
The Committee wish to comment upon the irregularity of the output of fiction from month to month. May brought forth the greatest number of good stories, as November reaped the fewest. They wish, also, to register notice of the continued flexibility of the short story form. “The Judgment of Vulcan,” at one extreme, in some thirteen thousand words none the less relates a short story; “Alma Mater,” at the other, accomplishes the same end in two thousand. It is a matter of record that the Committee discovered a number of excellent examples containing not more than two thirds this latter number, a fact that argues against the merging of the short story and the novel. Finally, the Committee believe the fiction of the year 1920 superior to that of 1919.
BLANCHE COLTON WILLIAMS,
NEW YORK CITY,
March 3, 1921.
BY MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT
From Scribner’s Magazine
Every afternoon at four o’clock, except when the weather was very bad—autumn, winter, and spring—old Mr. Henry McCain drove up to the small, discreet, polished front door, in the small, discreet, fashionable street in which lived fairly old Mrs. Thomas Denby; got out, went up the white marble steps, rang the bell, and was admitted into the narrow but charming hall—dim turquoise-blue velvet panelled into the walls, an etching or two: Whistler, Brangwyn—by a trim parlour-maid. Ten generations, at least, of trim parlour-maids had opened the door for Mr. McCain. They had seen the sparkling victoria change, not too quickly, to a plum-coloured limousine; they had seen Mr. McCain become perhaps a trifle thinner, the colour in his cheeks become a trifle more confined and fixed, his white hair grow somewhat sparser, but beyond that they had seen very little indeed, although, when they had left Mr. McCain in the drawing-room with the announcement that Mrs. Denby would be down immediately, and were once again seeking the back of the house, no doubt their eyebrows, blonde, brunette, or red, apexed to a questioning angle.