top of page

Derek Verschoyle, “Primitive Societies,” The Spectator

June 28, 1935, p. 1114

Rubber Truncheon. By Wolfgang Langhoff (Constable. 7s. 6d)

Waiting for Nothing. By Tom Kromer. (Constable. 7s. 6d)

[Review of Rubber Truncheon excluded]

The difference between the situations of the author of Rubber Truncheon and the author of Waiting for Nothing is more one degree than of kind. For it is surely not fanciful to recognize a similarity between Herr Langhoff and his fellow-prisoners purposelessly tormented and persecuted by their Nazi gaolers and Mr. Kromer and his fellow down-and-outs persecuted and assaulted by the police, cynically patronized by charity organizations, and spurned by their more fortunate fellow-countrymen when they asked for assistance: “You goddam bums give me a pain in the neck. Get the hell away from me before I call a cop”; “Buddy, do you know what I would do if I was down on my luck with no place to get in out of the rain? I would get me a job and go to work.” Mr. Kromer is a member of the generation which has found that there is no work to be had now, and realizes that there may never be any in the future. He is a person of some education, having worked his way through college by proof-reading on newspapers and then spent two years teaching in schools in West Virginia. After this there was no work of any kind to be found, and he was compelled to move from town to town, living from hand to mouth begging, charity institutions, and small misdemeanours. Waiting for Nothing is an appalling record of desperate poverty and hopeless degradation, written in an abrupt and laconic manner, and enlivened by a series of well drawn portraits and well described scenes. It is an extremely impressive book, which no one whose interest in either America or unemployment is more than merely academic should miss. It is profoundly to be hoped also that its success will satisfactorily settle the question of its author’s future.

bottom of page