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138 the minnesota review but why was the city attacked? Because the shipowners, vineyard proprietors and slave traders in Asia Minor had put a spoke in the wheel of Persian shipowners, vineyard proprietors and slave-traders. A fine reason! (p. 140) Later Socrates becomes a hero by an ironic combination ofpacifism and (t)error. Running for his life "among a lot ofsensible men from the suburbs," he howls with fear. This is mistaken for a war cry and turns the battle. But he is also howling with pain—he fled, thin sandaled, into a field of thorns. So much for Dulce et decorem est pro patri mori. The antidote to war—contemporary as ever—is to stop fighting, an active non-participation, even if it means as in "Two Sons" that a womanmust consignherstormtroopersontothesafety ofaprisoner-of-warcamp. Untilwedothis, as these stories show, we are all prisoners-of-war. But Brecht was not always politically pedagogic. He wrote many ofthese pieces for exposure or for money, and had little aspirationto be seen as an exponent ofthe short story. That "The Monster" won him acompetition and some acclaim mattered less than the 3,000 marks that came with it. And though the tale shows the human side ofthe inhuman, a formerdespot gainingasan old man apart in a movie depicting his more infamous and younger self, it illustrates a more self-consciously commercial side ofBrecht. The plot hinges on the irony oftheproducer's findingthe old mantoo gentle to portray so fiendish a role, a rather obvious play for pity seen coming from early on. Recollective of O'Henry is the rather contrived "The Good Lord's Package" where Brecht's concern for the unemployed leads him to a "trick" ending with more artifice than magic. But this is not to say he is incapable of frivolity. "Barbara" is a gut-curdling, suspensionwrenching drive with a spumed and jealous man. As Eddy, the driver, puts forth his philosophy of women, his foot pushes fast on the gas. The result is ajoy ride. Parallel with this levity is Brecht's snubbing of Berlin's intellectuals by fraternizing with figures from the sports world, such as the boxer Paul Samson-Körner, the German lightweight champion. The latter's (unfinished) life story is included in this volume, as well as other sports tales. In these, Brecht displays an acerbic, punchline wit reminiscent ofNelson Algren. At one point in "Four Men and a Poker Game," the exasperating Johnny—an unremitting winner—is challenged to the limit: to return everything ifhe loses; ifhe wins, he can "take acertain Jenny Smith to the male voice choir's Widows' Ball in Hoboken." Johnny asks: "And you won't be coming along?" "Wouldn't dream of it." "And you won't hold it against me?" "I won't hold it against you." "Or against her?" "What do you mean against her?" "Well, the girl, you won't hold it against her?" "Godammit no, I won't hold it against her either." And then Johnny won. (p. 96) In this manner. Brecht trumps throughout. The grey bookjacket(Brecht preferred to work ongrey tissue paper) incorporates a photograph of the writer at his desk in exile in Sweden. On a beam above this desk unfortunately unseen in the picture. Brecht had printed the credo The Truth is concrete. Perhaps this would be a fitting epithet forthese fictions. There are none concerned purely with form; they are all content—stories without embellishment, stories that do not need it. The truths, when the dust and characters settle, are left hard and fast and indomitable. PETER BRICKLEBANK Jonathan Holden. Fallingfrom Stardom. Pittsburgh: Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1984. 68 pp. $14.95 cloth, $6.50 paper. Debra Bruce. Pure Daughter. Fayetteville: University ofArkansas Press, 1983. 57 pp. $9.95 cloth. reviews 139 $5.95 paper. Catherine Anderson, in the Mother Tongue. Cambridge: Alice James Books, 1983. 61 pp. $12.95 cotah, $6.95 paper. In our agen© poet is a great communicator. That title, as we all know, belongs to Ronald Reagan, who speaks the right stuffat a right time. The inability ofAmerican poets to gain or even to intuest a mass audience is remarkably consistent. What...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 138-141
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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