Books: Old Man Spoon River

THE NEW WORLD—Edgar Lee Masters —Appleton-Century ($2.50).

Unmentioned in geographies, Spoon River is a middlewestern small town that appears on every American literary map. It has been there since 1915, when Poet Edgar Lee Masters published 200-odd hard-bitten epitaphs from an imaginary small-town graveyard, entitled the collection Spoon River Anthology. Bizarre in 1915, the book's candor seems natural in 1937, thus serves as a calculus of the reading public's growing ability to accept life's poison with life's meat.

Those who figure that an author's abilities should at least keep pace with his public's have...

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