[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]
The collected short works of William March, published by the University of Alabama Press. The stories have copyrights from 1929 – 1945; the collection (and Introduction by Rosemary M. Canfield-Reisman) is copyrighted 1989.
4 out of 5 stars (collection).
Times Read: 2
These stories take only about ten minutes to read apiece (fifty-five stories in a five-hundred-page collection means an average of about 9 pages per story). Some are little more than snapshots of a scene; a slight expansion of March’s style in Company K (review).
March’s most-used settings are his fictional Reedyville (also the location of three of his novels) and tales of World War I soldiers which continue themes from Company K.
The stories maintain an impressively high, consistent quality considering this is a full collection of all of March’s short stories (save one) and not a cherry-picked “best of” collection. There are a couple of flubs but March is solid (if not exceptional) overall.
Rosemary M. Canfield-Reisman gives an excellent introduction, summing up March’s themes:
[March] was soon convinced that war, like religion, was a fraud perpetuated by society, which encourages man’s natural cruelty and destroyed the innocent.
Most March stories conclude with the perception of loss – loss of a cause, of an ideal, of a dream, of a life. (…)
In other stories, characters must face the fact that a dream, a personal goal, is lost forever, and with it, the motivation for living.
March isn’t afraid to play with convention and explore the line between fantasy and reality, the future and the past. The worst I can say for him is that his characterization of black characters is terrible. March makes them speak in an offensive dialect that no other southern character is given (“gwiner” for “going to”, etc). It comes off really shitty.
I’ll review the stories in the order they appear in the book (which also follows their copyright dates).