Books: Midwestern Primitive

THE PORTABLE SHERWOOD ANDERSON (631 pp.)—edited by Horace Gregory —Viking ($2).

One day in 1912 at the age of 36, Paint Manufacturer Sherwood Anderson strode out of his office and told his secretary cryptically: "I have been wading in a long river and my feet are wet." With that, he walked out of his factory in Elyria, Ohio, and down the railroad track. He never came back.

He went to Chicago and began to write of the things he found in "the long river" during his years as a stable boy, a factory worker, an ad writer, a maker of paints. In the...

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