Friday, January 15, 2010
Friday's "Forgotten" Books: WAITING FOR NOTHING by Tom Kromer (Knopf, 1935)
The 1968 Hill and Wang reprint, the version I have.
Well, if you're looking for another ancestor of Fawcett Gold Medal's tales of entrapment and despair in the 1950s, this autobiographical novella by Tom Kromer, largely a string of incidents taken from his life as a homeless drifter (or, constantly, a "stiff") during the Depression, will certainly do...James T. Farrell, L-F Celine, and John Steinbeck have nothing on Kromer when it comes to facing the abyss, or another night where the choices are to submit to predatory evangelists, cops (looking for short-term prison-gang labor), or self-deluding chicken-hawks, or another night in the park in the cold rain...or shooting one's self in the head, or taking the slower route by drinking diluted Sterno or straight bay rum. Told in short, choppy sentences and with a not quite completely flattened affect, and measuring the distance between those who want to put on a show of their generosity and those who are simply generous (and those who get their fleeting jollies cursing the bums who Won't Go Get A Job in an all but jobless time), it makes its point.
One wonders what became of Kromer...I'll have to look into that.
For more of Friday's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog