A Bookish Magazine for Regular Booksters.
The Valley Road
by Richard A. Thomas, Jr.
No matter now how long the valley-road I wander,
(And valley-roads wind much and wander far,)
I once was young, and climbed near to the hill-top,
And pinned all hopes on yonder shining star.
Echoes From The Study-Corner
by Richard A. Thomas, Jr.
In October of 1933 Hala Jean Hammond wrote me from her home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to tell me her book of sonnets, I Pray You, Lapidary, was almost ready to be published. There is a thrill which comes to authors when they are almost ready to bring out a new book – and a chill of suspense and wonderment, too. She told me then about her book. Here are scattered quotations from her letter: “Poetry is my real love, my obsession…. My book will be ‘I Pray You Lapidary,’ really a prayer to Life, as voiced in the Epilogue. And it stresses the Flesh, too long disregarded, too little considered because it is not fully recognized as the Soul’s expression or manifestation. There’s something more wonderfully mysterious and awe-inspiring to me”… in “the flesh than the spirit. Its tangibility makes it so.”
And now the Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, announce this book of sonnets is published. It is standard 12mo. size, printed on 60-lb. antique book paper, and bound in full cloth art vellum, blue gray, gold stamped side and back title. The type face is 12 point Garamond. The price is $1.50. Perhaps Miss Hammond’s work may best be compared to the work of Sara Teasdale, Elinor Wylie and Emily Dickinson, three poets she admires very much.
The Study-Corner is greatly improved by a picture Harry W. Zollars sent me recently – of himself. I should be lost without the correspondence with him and my other friends, many of whom I have never seen. One does not realize what letters can mean until he finds a real friend through them – then…
New York all-night lunch stands, according to McIntyre, develop a picturesque language of their own. To witness only a few expressions: for hash, “sweep the floor;” for butter milk, “sour moo;” for buttered toast, “grease a burn.” We’ll take ham and eggs!
The theme-song of the Corner this month seems to be Letters. I am going to quote from a letter written by a man who possesses a unique letter-writing philosophy. He is Edwin H. Brown, Editor of the Covington, Tennessee, Leader. “You will note from my letters that there is nothing in them necessitating a reply. I’m afraid I’m a desultory correspondent when it comes to duty letters, for I write only when I want to. These thoughts-aloud – if they give an interesting two minutes to their recipients, if they convey a thought which may be expanded by an abler mind, if they give a moment of inspiration, then their purpose shall have been served. As poor as they are, my letters are gifts, and I have rather a horror of any one’s sitting down and dictating a ‘have-to’ letter to me. One does not give to be given to.” Here in the Corner we voice a lusty “Amen to that!”
(To Edna St. Vincent Millay)
by Charles Ely Barker
Rare vines within a vineyard grew,
“Wine from These Grapes” you drew;
It fills to overflowing every vein –
It satisfies the soul
And clarifies the brain.
Your heart was pierced by some far-distant star
And on your bosom left no scar.
Wine from your breast drips clear, sparkling as the dew
And from dead ashes of the past,
Life springs anew.
I think the best thing I have seen from the pen of William Saroyan, whose picture we are presenting this month, is his review of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, which was published in The Saturday Review of Literature December eighth. Any one about to express an opinion of Saroyan’s writing should not do so till they have read this article.
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The Star, a fine little newspaper by Jimmie McGaffin, Jr., of Omaha, Neb., came out in its December fifteenth number on dainty green paper with large red star in top center. Nice work, Jimmie!
by Newby Crowell
Black God, by D. Manners Sutton (Longmans, Green & Co. 1934, $2.50) is an unusual book. It is a picture of the African Congo that is at once real and unreal. It is the story of the jungle, the black man and the white man who is steadily losing in his fight against the jungle. It is a picture of African magic. Back of the story is magic, the witch doctor, and his spells. M’Kato sits all day on the banks of the Little River, waiting for the day when his magic will bring him revenge against the white man who has wronged him. The story seems as if it were divided into many short stories, but it gradually works into a single one. The European is losing in his fight against African magic until he fights fire with fire and uses some magic himself. Most of the story sounds like a pipe dream but in another way it is real – terribly real. Africa is Africa, and who knows the way of the black man?
The Foundry, by Albert Halper (Viking 1934, $2.50) is a vivid realistic novel. The story takes place in a modern electrotype foundry in Chicago. The story deals with the men who work there. It goes into detail about their daily lives and tasks, what they do in the foundry, and their life outside. It is the story of Max’l who is the real boss of the shop and his two partners Jack Duffy, the shop wit, and Mr. Cranly who is timid and cautious. It is the story of Waldo, the errand boy, who shaves his head to save on haircuts. It is the story of Heitman the agitator, Slavony the tankman, and Freddy the apprentice. The story is full of life and vigor, nothing high brow about this. The book is beautifully written and makes one experience life of the men in the foundry.
There is a certain charm in reading a novel which has been discussed and raved over for some time and then comparatively forgotten in the rush of books and more books. I happened to pick up Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis, and read it, reading it with a quiet joy. It is truly an American novel even as the Foundry is. It typifies the spirit of the scientist, the pioneer in science who is willing to sacrifice all in order to learn one more fact.
by William Lewis Washburn
It is a fascinating game to trace words home to their lair. All words must have a beginning. Many show their origin from the things with which they are associated. Take “Puss” for example. When a kitten spits at you it sounds like “puss” and there you have the origin of its name.
Take any word, Oat, for instance. A name of a cereal whose origin is lost in antiquity. You may have heard a legend, that once upon a time farmers were troubled by a certain tall weed coming up along with their crops. Their complaints reached the ear of their King and he commanded an official to consult a wise man and find out what it was. The messenger did so and the wise man replied he would make a note of the matter. The messenger, misunderstanding him, reported to the King that the weed was “an oat.”
Of all the cereals the oat is the only one that adds the “s” for the plural, as for example: “Is the crop rye, wheat, barley or oats?” One dictionary says it is believed that Oat was not a plant or its product but denoted an individual grain. Possibly oats were originally eaten in grain. Dr. Samuel Johnson, showing his dislike for the hardy Scot, in his Dictionary defined Oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Modern dictionaries are more courteous and define Oats as “a hardy cereal forming an important article of food, and also a chief food for horses.”
In the eighteenth century, in England, teamsters would speak of having “oated my horses.” Wild oat is a tall grass resembling the cultivated article (of which it may be the wild original) and is a frequent weed in corn fields. To sow one’s wild oats is to commit youthful follies.
“Oate” is also the name of a pipe made of oaten straw and used as a pastoral instrument of music. Shakespeare wrote, “When Shepheards pipe on oaten strawes.”
Much more could be written around this single word.
When yellow leaves little Orvie forty-two years in the White House while Rome burns, morning shows the day. Now in November life begins at forty. Mary Peters, riding the tiger through space and time, lost horizon. Good-bye, Mr. Chips; why not try God half mile down?
(The following is copied from Story for November, 1934, and is published here by the kind permission of the publishers of that magazine. The book referred to is The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, by William Saroyan, published by Random House.)
What does a young author think about when he gets in his hand his first copy of his first book? We are, in certain circumstances, all for documentation. The following note was received a few weeks ago by Random House, publishers of the Saroyan book, from the young author in San Francisco:
“I have the book. Congratulations to each of you; it looks to be a book. It weighs enough to be a book. It reads like a book. Maybe it is a book. I’m not sure because I wrote the writing in the book, but this much is certain: I am deeply grateful to each of you for doing so fine a job. It couldn’t have been printed in better style. It is swell, no fooling. It is so swell that I have lost my usual lucidity and must speak in very brief sentences. Of course the writing isn’t so swell to me. That’s how it goes. I wrote the stuff, so I can’t care for it a lot; not at the moment, anyway, being too close to it. But don’t be worried about this. I always feel this way after reading too much of my stuff. I believe at the same time that the writing is probably very good, and that the book will sell. It should sell if only for the splendid job of binding, and print.
“I couldn’t wait for the express truck to come out here with the book, so I walked to the city at six in the morning, and went down to pier fourteen, and raised hell, even though I wasn’t certain the book had been sent express. I told everybody the package was sent from New York weeks ago, and it was important. I had all the telephones in the place working, and all the clerks jumping. Well, we found the package, and I opened it right there. Two clerks congratulated me. We shook hands solemnly. My first book, I told them. I hope it sells. They said it looked to be a swell book, and wished me luck. I took the books up to my brother’s office, and he insisted on taking one of the copies home with him so I left one with him. The other I have been looking over for several hours…. And I am yet a bit unaccustomed to the idea, and the presence of the book; Paul Elder has written asking me to visit him as soon as possible, so I think I will go down to his place now and show him the book. But the idea, the major idea of this note, is to congratulate each of you for the good work, and to thank you, with good wishes.
“A Collection of My Mistakes”
by Willard Texas Thompson
(A daring young man of Rushville, Ill.)
“Of the making of books there is no end.” Ditto for my library. Like man, it is on its way to death the minute it was started. I always kept the golden rule; never tried to build mine up at somebody else’s expense, but ran a lending library; with many short circuits. My main source of additions was Sunday School attendance. One year’s attendance entitled a fellow to a book of his choice. I built up a Tarzan collection thusly. Once in a while the committee presumed to override my judgment. When they did the book left a sour taste in my mouth. One such I’ve never read.
On finishing High I decided to continue my education. To that end I began searching old bookstores for French literature. The first one I ever located, Tartarian de Tarascon, by Daudet, I have yet to read. Because of remembering the price as contrasted with The Livre de Mon Aci, I bought the same day, and the words of the shop keeper when I tried to bargain with her, I learned one thing from it, in dealing with book-dealers, set the price yourself.
Before I left home on the roam I boxed the books I wanted to keep. Loaned out others. My library is coming to be a collection of my mistakes. The books I bought didn’t make the grade as desiderata for some one else. Maybe it was because I missed the copyright notice. Perhaps some page in the interior was missing unbeknownst to me.
I am proud to know my collection of literature Francais beats that of many libraries in towns noted for their culture.
During my stay in the CCC I gave our place the name of Aethanaeum, due to those who came up to borrow books and magazines. The Sears Roebuck cat known as the “American Wishbook,” was the greatest drawing card. When and as if that mail order firm opens up stores in foreign lands, that book will run the Bible a close second.
The saying, “When something is for sale for a song the singer can’t sing,” is true for my case. I’m forming some ideas so that if I ever do get wealth I’ll not die of ennui for ways to spend it.
One whimsical idea would be a collection of books of any sort by those bearing the family name on both sides. Then of course I’d rebind my scrap books. I might even “grangerize” and try to build up a complete travelogue with pictures cut from books and picture post cards. For the rule of the road has been travel light. I sure enjoy comparing my few photos with other pictures. I regret my ignorance of German. These books are very cheap and many must be on subjects interesting to me – the South Seas, collecting, and occult. My traveling has fixed a list of books in my mind that I aim to have.
The most severe blow to my pride came on my return home after a trip west with the primary object of my searching the ghost towns of the west for Americana. I found an old family near where I lived had thrown away a wagon load of Godey’s Books and other magazines including some cloth books. Dag nab!!!
English a Composite Language
by Mary D. Ticknor, Monroe, N.C.
Our language, although used by some two hundred million people, is still in a state of evolution, new ideas and new inventions making many new words necessary. Some words also become obsolete from lack of use.
English has its origin in several languages, and is therefore composite. In a study of English History we find that William the Conqueror brought with him from Normandy hundreds of followers who spoke the French language. After the Battle of Hastings, when William defeated the Saxon King Harold, the Conqueror not only took possession of the Saxon noble’s strongholds which he gave to his Norman followers, he substituted, as far as he was able, French for the Saxon tongue in his new kingdom. So we find very few pure Saxon words in the English language today.
The word home is pure Saxon. There is no equivalent for this word in French, the word maison means house and chez at the place of, in French, the nearest approach to the idea of home.
The French word for sheep is mouton, from this we get mutton, but the word sheep is Saxon. The word cow is also Saxon, but the slaughtered animal becomes beef from the French word boeuf.
Hangar is a French word and means shed. Garage comes from the French gare, which means station. The word bureau in French means office. In our language it may mean office or piece of furniture, which is puzzling to a foreigner who is attempting to learn English. There are hundreds of pure French words in our language and many more originating from the French.
At the time of the advent of the Conqueror in England, the priests were the scholars and they used Latin as a medium of expression in writing and in the church service, so naturally there are many words of Latin origin in English. There are also some words of Greek origin. Scientific and legal terms were usually derived from these two older classical languages.
So for a thorough knowledge of our language, we need to study early English and French, also Latin and Greek, if we have time, not forgetting that there is a good old Webster’s Dictionary, or other authentic dictionary, that is an ever ready source of help and information on this vital subject.
It might also be of interest to read H. L. Mencken’s The American Language, which came out several years ago, but is now being revised. It is a strikingly original and scholarly work, with the usual Mencken satiric slant and will challenge the interest of any reader. It will surprise those who complacently speak or write our mother tongue, knowing as little as we do about it. Mencken makes a distinction between the English and the American language, which is edifying to Americans, but taken with a shrug, skeptical or otherwise, by English critics.
An example of the kind of information The Bookmark would like to see printed in every book is found on the last page of the first edition of Heaven’s My Destination, by Thornton Wilder, which was recently published by Messrs. Harper & Brothers of New York and London. The information referred to says that this book “is set in Linotype Janson, an authentic revival of the famous seventeenth-century book face of Anton Janson, the punchcutter of Leipsic. The book is designed by A. W. Rushmore. Manufactured by the Haddon Craftsmen for the publishers.” This new book is bound in natural-color linen, with title in black and decorations in red on back, and a reproduction of the author’s signature in black on front cover. It is a beautiful book. Read it. Who wants to read an ugly book?
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I have wandered about the earth and lived in queer places with Anthony Adverse; I have spent the bewildered twenty-four hours with Ulysses; I have been taken to the tents and towers of Omar Khayyan by Harold Lamb; I have whipped the mountain streams of Tennessee along with Alec Maury, Sportman; I have taken the Grim Journey back and forth over the frozen wastes of the West; I have spent the Forty Days of Musa Dagh; I have travelled the inevitable European Journey; I have stood by his bedside and said, with tears in my eyes, Good-Bye, Mr. Chips; but now, via of a Christmas Gift, I come to the biggest book of 1934, the greatest piece of writing since the Lusitania sank, and, so, my early morning chores done, while wife is in the kitchen preparing the daily dish of oatmeal, and none of the children have begun the day, I sit in my old seat beside the warm heater and read While Rome Burns.
by C. Carlton Brechler
The Oakland Amateur Press Club has become very active recently in preparation for the coming National Convention. They are occupied at present with increasing their membership and having all of their members join the N.A.P.A. Their club meetings have been changed from twice to once a month. Though it is not known for sure as yet, the convention next July will probably be held at the Hotel Oakland. Have just heard that a group from Jackson, Michigan, are planning to attend.
At this writing – about the middle of January – Willard “Texas” Thompson is very ill with spinal meningitis in a Cincinnati hospital. “Texas” is a member and well-known in both associations, and we hope that he is feeling better by the time this is published.
The December issue of Amateur Offerings announces that an “Ex-Official” ticket sponsored by Messrs. Nagel and Heljeson will make its appearance in the coming United election. However, at present it is very doubtful as to whether it will appear since Mr. Nagel has temporarily ceased campaigning, being stunned by the recent death of his mother, and Mr. Heljeson has permanently ceased campaigning due to a government position which is occupying too much of his time.
Margaret Nickerson Martin expects to bring out another volume of poems this summer, to be published, probably, by the Christopher Publishing House of Boston. This will make her third volume, her last – Still Waters – having sold through two editions.
Robie McCauley and Margaret Nickerson Martin will issue another Podunk Penswiper soon. Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Mathieson, teachers at Pittsford, Michigan, will issue a new paper soon. George McCauley will probably issue a “Political” paper in the near future. The first issue of the Michigan Amateur for this year has been received. The next one will come out in April, and it is hoped that two more issues will follow that before the year is up.
The Annual Convention of the United Amateur Press Association, President Northrup states, will be held at the Hotel Webster, 40 West 45th Street, New York City, on July 4th. Special rates to Amateur Journalists. Management will give special attention to convention. Dr. Dean is the custodian of ballots. All amateurs are cordially invited to be present at the meeting and banquet. Drop Mr. Northrup, box 245, Station G, New York City a card if you will be present.
To My Valentine
by Annie M. Lane
Last night, through mingled sleet and rain –
A wanderer to my window pane
Came tremulously flying –
A little bird with fluttering breast,
A little bird in russet dress,
And near, ah near to dying.
And, since I know you love the birds,
I took him with tender words,
And calmed his small heart’s leaping;
Today at dawn, gown gay and strong,
His ripping joyous song
Awakened me from sleeping.
So I have sent him forth to seek
For you, that to you flushing cheek,
Caressing you may hold him;
Dear love, for whom my heart’s astir,
Receive the little wanderer,
And ask him what I told him!
Though far in the future, the members of the Michigan Amateur Press Club hope to hold their informal mid-summer conference at the cottage of Norman Quillman, the newly elected Official Editor, at St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
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Of Time and the River, a new long novel by Thomas Wolfe, has had its first edition publication date set for March 8th by Scribner’s.
A Christmas at Cafe Spaander, a delightful Christmas story by Edward Penfield, has been done into a lovely brochure at The Blue Anchor Press by Virginia and Jack Briggs. The edition, of which I received a copy at Christmas, is limited to 60 copies, and is a fine job. As Virginia and Jack’s address has been misplaced, I am taking this way of saying thank you.
The book which Stephen Leacock has written on the theory and technique of humor is to be published by Dodd, Mead in March under the title, Why Laugh.
Many Bookmark readers have expressed interest and pleasure in the My Library series of articles, which have been omitted recently on account of lack of copy. As I now have several interesting papers in hand on this subject, this feature is now being resumed. Now is a good time to send me a paper about your books.
“The dinner has been remarkable; there was a good fire of her own wood warming the golden mandarins on the glossy blue wallpaper and shining on the many backs of her best-loved books.” And thus it ends: “But Jenkins had gone to sleep in his chair.” Of course, there’s a lot between—yes a whole Week-End – Phill Stong’s latest.
I have received from Edward F. Herdman, Bishop Auckland, England, the first two issues of The Amateur Recorder, a very creditable publication born in June 1934.
The December number of The Brooklynite published at Hohokus, N. J., is given over to things about and by the late Ernest Adams. There are six poems by Mr. Adams, two poems addressed to him by Eleanor Wood, and a long interesting paper about Mr. Adams by James F. Morton. When on October 4, 1934, Ernest Adams passed away, amateur journalism lost a warm advocate and every amateur publisher a friend.
Aren’t Harcourt, Brace reviving a fashion of “the gay nineties” in publishing illustrated novels this spring? Hightland Night, by Neil Gunn, is to be illustrated by Freda Bone, and Light from Arcturus, by Mildred Walker, will be illustrated by Frank Peers. I would love to see more illustrated first-edition novels.
Grandsons, a novel by Louis Adamic, is announced for early March publication by Harpers.
Edited and published at Monroe, N.C., by Clarke W. Walton.
Contributing Editors: Richard A. Thomas, Jr., Memphis Tenn.; G. Newby Crowell, Monroe, N. C.; C. Carlton Brechler, Madison Wisc.
Affiliated with the National and the United Amateur Press Associations and the Dixie Amateur Press Club.
Price five cents per copy, fifty cents per year.