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Whatever it was she had in the way of a gift, she had lost it.When she died in 1967, I doubt that anyone felt that she was leaving good books unwritten.Just so, the inappropriateness of the name New York Cafe is meant by the author to convey a sense of cultural starvation, the provincial dreariness of the kind of city where the side-walks, as they used to say, are rolled up each night at ten o’clock. Frankie Addams’s view of Columbus and her own, she once remarked, were identical.
She wrote for numerous reasons, and an important one was so that it might make her famous and enable her to move to New York and escape the dreariness of the provinces forever.
Which it did—though it cannot be said that ultimately she found what she was looking for there, either.
We are dealing, therefore, with certain works of fiction written and published during a period of intense and often brilliant creativity, by a young writer, a as it were, one who did not develop or extend her range afterward. Whatever the faces and tensions that were central to her life and art, and which ultimately destroyed both, they attained, during this period, an equilibrium that made her fiction possible.
A writer, too, whom I have found can exert a very powerful influence on young people, in particular other young writers.
As he stood upon the hill and looked out on the scene that spread below him in the gathering darkness, with its pattern of lights to mark the streets and the creeping pin-pricks of the thronging traffic, he remembered the barren nighttime streets of the town he had known so well in his boyhood.
Their dreary and unpeopled desolation had burned its acid print upon his memory.
of her work—of all her books, and also, so far as living in the everyday world that most of us must inhabit is involved, the most “normal.” In those books, produced over a period of less than a decade and while the author was still in her twenties, we have a very impressive body of fiction indeed. Nothing that she wrote in the remaining two decades of her life adds much to her achievement.
was an artistic disaster; only her most devoted admirers could say much for it.
They had been dying in the darkness—without a goal, a certain purpose, or a door.
And that, it seemed to George, was the way the thing had come. Yes, it was there— on many a night long past and wearily accomplished, in ten thousand little towns and in ten million barren streets where all the passion, hope, and hunger of the famished men beat like a great pulse through the fields of darkness—it was there and nowhere else that all this madness had been brewed.