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T. S. Stribling (UNA Archives): Book Reviews

Book Reviews

T.S. Stribling - A Sampling of  Book Reviews

Red Sand

"Mr. Stribling is a romantic with his tongue in his cheek. But he is also a sensitive observer, alive to the beauty
as well as to the comedy of things. For those qualities, even though in this tragi-comedy of punctilio
his irony is largely thrown away, his progress is worth following."
- The London Times Literary Supplement, May 29, 1924

"To the superficial, Red Sand may be a romance with a tragic ending; to the discerning it is a work of art."
- Outlook, October 1, 1924


"The best work, so far, of one of the most promising writers of America. Teeftallow is a little masterpiece."
-New Statesman, June 19, 1926

"Teeftallow is an engaging study of humanity caught in the toils of tradition, moral, religious, emotional, away
from which it can make no marked progress."
- Boston Transcript, March 31, 1926

"Teeftallow makes understandable all the provincialism (in its best sense), all the religiosity and revivalism, all the miseducation that puzzled most people in America and England at the time of the Scopes evolutionary arguments. Teeftallow, for this view of the hills of Tennessee, is worth the trouble. As a novel, as an art result, it is more doubtful. Its inherent weakness is bad writing, poor style. The romance of the South, the quiet beauty of the hills, the aspiration of the elemental society - the things that make the book powerful - comes, it seems, despite the author and his gifts."
- International Book Review, May 1926

Teeftallow will strengthen Mr. Stribling's reputation. It confirms the opinion that he is a writer of acute perception. The story has vividness and power, an objective honesty and clarity. The one respect in which Mr. Stribling has not paid his full debt tot truth is his failure to show the kindliness and gentleness which is an inseparable part of the nature of these folk."
- Saturday Review of Literature, April 3, 1926

Bright Metal

"Mr. Stribling has written a powerful book. Every character he brings before us is clearly outlined. Every situation is the logical result of the one which has preceded it. He writes with mastery, with a delicate wit, superimposed upon a fine feeling for what is pathetic and inevitable. Aware as he is of the tragic implications in the material he has selected, he has molded it all into an intensely absorbing novel."
- Boson Transcript, September 29, 1928

"However exciting and readable Bright Metal may be, it fails of first-rank quality. One is forced to admit that the shock of actuality one gets from the immediate reading of Stribling's pages is about the same as that deriving from a stenographic report in a newspaper of a trial."
- New York Times, October 28, 1928

Clues Of The Caribbees

"We are fascinated by the clues in Mr. Stribling's book of detective stories, for they are complicated, varied and wild, but we are even more fascinated by the Caribbees. He makes us share his sympathy with other countries and types of mind than the Anglo-Saxon as successfully as he did in Fombombo and Teeftallow."
- New Statesman, April 5, 1930

"Mr. Stribling sticks persistently to his plainer style even in the midst of the wildest and woolliest happenings - an effective ruse, if such it be. His sleuth appears to be a real master mind, and his collection of mysteries is worth
the price. Especially the exotic settings.
- New York Herald Tribune, November 24, 1929

"The stories are vastly entertaining, and the element of mystery is by no means lacking, but the mysteries
are solved in spite of Professor Poggioli rather than by him."
- New York Times, November 17, 1929

Strange Moon

"There are certain well written pages in it and the whole story is generously splashed with the local color of Venezuela. Still it is a trivial effort to come from a writer of rare talent."
- Boston Transcript, June 22, 1929

"Regarded as a whole, Strange Moon gives the impression of having been written as a tour de force, an entertainment, the brilliant literary escapade of an ingenious mind. Mr. Stribling condescends to his them, he is not mastered by it; so that in spite of the impressiveness of its separate qualities it lacks unity and compelling force. Its charm depends upon artifice and upon the quality of the author's mind; but it is an enjoyable book."
- Saturday Review, September 28, 1929


"As a story this is one of the most graphic and eventful that the author has ever written; but as
a novel it one of the least significant.
- New York World, February 16, 1930

"One wonders where the talent has gone that went into the composition of that biting satire called Teeftallow, which first brought Mr. T. S. Stribling into favorable critical attention. Backwater, this most recent novel by the same author, is decidedly a great disappointment. Unusual pains seemed to have been gone to it in order to get his effects. He has used the most violent and melodramatic methods, with an apparent carelessness of writing that is sometimes astounding, when one considers that the work of an experienced craftsman in under consideration."
- New York Evening Post, February 15, 1930

The Forge

"As a social document The Forge is undoubtedly worthwhile. The battles which are heard faintly on the horizon, as Grant works his way down the Mississippi, are treated with a fragmentary realism. The activities of Klan and carpetbagger, as Mr. Stribling writes of them, would seem something less than real to a Thaddeus Stevens or a Thomas Dixon - which means that Mr. Stribling holds the balance well. but through all this social documentation the characters waver, are lost, are found again, and vanish.
- New York Times, March 8, 1931

"Let no one consider this a bleak tale of disillusion. The beauty of Southern scenes, the humor of American characters, the charm of great writing are here united in a strong, vibrant story of what remains, even now ten years and more after a world war, the most significant epoch in our national life."
-Boston Transcript, May 28, 1931

The Store

"Mr. Stribling has done a superb novel of manners in The Store, and it has the excitement for the reader that all really actual and vivid chronicles have. Reading a book like The Store is an adventure, comparable to the adventure of travel, for it discloses - to non-Southern readers at least - a whole vast expanse of manners and psychology which have all the allure of unexplored places.
- Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1932

"It is a first-rate book of its kind, a good story filled with diverse and vital characters and much of it cannot be read without that primitive excitement, that eagerness to know what comes next, which is, after all, the triumph of the good storyteller. But since the days of Fombombo, Mr. Stribling has acquired some unfortunate tricks of style".
- New Statesman, May 14, 1932

See also UNA's Flor-Ala complete review of The Store

Unfinished Cathedral

"This is a profound and sympathetic study of average human beings. As a cross-section of modern American life it is a rich and moving document, notable for its dignity, its seriousness of purpose and its width of scope. Above all it is a courageous novel, a novel that will make many readers hate its author.
- Boston Transcript, June 9, 1934

"Mr. Stribling has imaginative vigor and at the same time a very evident desire not to blink the truth as nearly as he can see it. He has what many more profound novelists lack - a distinct narrative sense...he has, too, the gift of convincing dialogue. Such are his assets, all of which he possesses in high degree...but his deficiencies are serious ones for a writer who aims beyond the giving of entertainment and information. He not only lacks style; he is inept in the use of words; he lacks feeling for them. In the creation of character his work is equally unsatisfying...his work is too susceptible to coincidence, and he falls readily into melodrama. In short, he approaches a theme of magnificent proportions and potentialities with a technique which is unequal to their realization."
- New York Times, June 10, 1934

"It would be quite interesting if we could find anyone who had nothing better to do to read this book and map out the number of attempted lynchings, seductions, threatened killings, mention of female legs warm against his, and all the other sensational tricks of the literary vulgarian. It is these things that caused this present reviewer to call Unfinished Cathedral cheap and melodramatic."
-Birmingham News, June 10, 1934

The Sound Wagon

"The book as a whole seems to proceed form a mood of universal disgust. It is too heavy-handed for fantasy and not sufficiently controlled for universal truth...Finally it should be said that Mr. Stribling writes without wit and without distinction. From the uncouth opening sentence to the concluding paragraph his novel is pedestrian. The conversations are all alike, no matter who is talking; the narrative portion is uniformly dull."
- Saturday Review of Literature, December 28, 1935

"Before reading it, few would have admitted that author Stribling might be capable of urbanity, let alone sustained satire. After reading it, many might have allowed that here at last was a U.S. satirical mirror with a sufficiently high polish to be called urbane.
- Time, December 30, 1935

These Bars of Flesh

"...Consistently amusing and as intellectually exciting a light satire as our contemporary spot of time and place affords. You would never suspect Stribling of this light reflective touch, this way with ideas and notions, this gift for paradox, this ability to play with minds and psyches by way of gentle pervasive irony. The story is not pyrotechnically brilliant; but it is consistently alive and refreshing and intelligent. It is a holiday for his readers as well as for himself."
- Books, April 10, 1938


Collier Library and UNA Archives

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