Too Much Dope in the Village; Seymour Krim on James Jones


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January 15, 1958, Vol. III, No. 12

Villagers Act to Curb Growing Drug Traffic

Twice within a single week Villagers indicated their concern with the narcotics problem. On the evening following the mass meeting at Pompei Church last Monday, the Greenwich Village Association gathered, under its newly elected president, J.G.L. Molloy, and decided to appoint a special committee to study ways and means to combat drug addiction.

The decision grew out of an assertion by James J. Kirk, chairman of the Sixth Precinct Youth Council, that there are 25 known addicts in this area and that dope-peddling is rampant on Carmine Street. In the discussion that followed Mr. Kirk’s remarks Thomas I. Brennan, a onetime police officer, now an attorney, declared that police action alone could not eradicate the problem, and suggested a medical approach to the addict…

The New James Jones Novel

By Seymour Krim

By the time you read this the news will be out that “Some Came Running,” James Jones’ second book, is a dud, a huge crate of matter (1266 pages) that rarely gets off the ground and leaves even the most sympathetic reader with a sense of flat disappointment. In some quarters Jones will be hanged high because he hasn’t made the reception of the book easier by remarks like: “I’m fully satisfied [with “Some Came Running”] but I hesitate to call it great on grounds of immodesty.” The fact that a young writer like Jones can let himself go with such straight-faced blather, after having barely served an apprenticeship, is probably a comment on our peculiar lunacy in America. We need and worship overnight heroes, force them to believe in the myth of themselves by our hot attentiveness, and then when they swallow it all and try to live up to it, we indifferently turn our backs and go after the newest celebrity.

I believe Jones is the not unwilling victim of a cynical, barbaric, probably psychotic cultural atmosphere which has encouraged him to try and be a literary Gargantua instead of letting him prosper quietly and grow with time. No doubt our hero is partly to blame, because there is no denying his ambition, his grim, expressionless plugging through pages and pages of unleavened type that make the reader finally beg for relief. The book is monotonous: an almost unrelieved and drearily uniform telephone directory about a number of people who flourished in a small town in Illinois from 1947 to 1950, between two wars. The sexual, financial, and emotional (so-called) lives of some 20 characters are put on the line with a head-first, relentless, savagely dull attack. After miles of documentation, Death, Taxes, Disease and Disillusion come out of the winners, but the edge of any tragic moral has long since been blunted and made almost meaningless in the sluggish bowels of the performance itself….

[Others liked the book a little more, and eventually it became a critically-acclaimed movie with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.]

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]