Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

KAY BOYLE AND
THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

I PICKED UP Kay Boyle Avalanche in the hope of finding a novel worth reading, and have been somewhat taken aback to get nothing but a piece of pure rubbish.

Aside from a few literary devices such as italicized "interior monologues," Avalanche is simply the usual kind of thing that is turned out by women writers for the popular magazines. A blond heroine, half French, half American, who fled France when the Germans came, returns to work with a relief committee and becomes involved in the underground movement in the mountains of the Haute-Savoie. The villain is a Gestapo agent masquerading as a Swiss clock manufacturer, who sneers at the French so openly and makes himself in general so provocatively unpleasant that the reader is at first led to think that this character must himself be a French patriot masquerading as a German spy, and is later impelled to wonder how he has ever held down his job. The hero, Bastineau, leader of the mountain resistance, combines the glamor of Charles Boyer with the locomotive proficiency of Superman. Adored by his followers almost as a god, he constantly outwits the Germans, performs prodigies of fidelity to the Girl and, like the Frankenstein monster of the movies, is always pretending to be killed and then sensationally coming to life.

-128-

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