THE HANDWRITING of Glenway Wescott is unusual and rather arresting. It looks somewhat like the elegant and rigorous script that one finds cut on the copper of sundials of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the same clarity, the same heavy shadings, the same inflexibly maintained slant. It always seems to have been engraved in metal rather than merely written on paper. There is in it a certain element of boyishness--big round capitals and rounded "m"s and "n"s--but it is always a copybook boyishness, inseparable from a self-imposed discipline.
Mr. Wescott's style makes a similar impression. One is struck by the firm vigor and the craftman's precision with which the short phrases are cut. Here is a personal and handmade product, the achievement of an individual skill. It, too, may have begun with a copybook, with exercises on classical models, but it is hard to put one's finger on these models. Terse and sharp though the language is as English, the form may be based on French. In any case, this style is as far from the colloquialism of Hemingway as from the literary clichés of Louis Bromfield. When one starts reading anything by Wescott, one always feels a satisfaction which comes as something unexpected.
His new novel, Apartment in Athens, has these quail-