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James Hilton, "New Fiction. Ancient and Modern Fashions," Daily Telegraph

July 2, 1935, p. 8

PERHAPS because the downward swoop from prosperity was most catastrophic of all in America, the depression seems to have had a sharper effect on literature there than here, and it is not surprising that this sharpness is often both bewildered and bitter. A book just published, “WAITING FOR NOTHING,” by Tom Kromer (with an interesting introduction by Theodore Dreiser), mirrors this mood with an overwhelming intensity; it is too raw to be art and too elemental not to be impressive; in this respect it might be called an “All Quiet” of the Slump.
It is a series of episodes told in the first person by a man whom circumstances drove into the fore-front trenches of this new and more recent war. He wandered about from city to city, begging dimes for food and shelter, planning to rob bank and then funking it at the last minute, joining breadlines and soup-queues, jumping freight-trains, being beaten up by police, and all the time starving, fretting, wondering why it should all be allowed to happen.
It is, by implication, one man’s indictment of American civilization, and though in places one feels it to be overdrawn, the overdrawing is never insincere and only very rarely sentimental. Here, if you can stand it, is the real truth about being a tramp on the roads with no sure meal ahead, and it should act as an antidote to the jogging-along-the-highway stuff that is apt to be romantically believed in by comfortable people bored with their own comforts.
The English reader may feel that in some respects (notably in that of the police attitude) American down-and-outs are worse off than our own; but any difference that does exist should not be complacently exaggerated. Central Park and the Embankment could supply the same sagas of misery.
“Waiting for Nothing” is a grim and valuable document to which the publisher’s blue-paged note about an excluded chapter adds bibliographical novelty, while the writing, which is in the star post-Hemingway tradition, handles its raw material more than adequately.

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