Chosen Country, by John Dos Passos
Modesty is a vanishing quality in serious American fiction, and part of the pleasure one takes in John Dos Passos’ new book comes from the novelty of its sober, almost old-fashioned craft. Nothing in the book is clearer than Dos Passos’ determination to say no more than the experience he is describing warrants. Even the unsympathetic characters, except for Communist fellow-travelers, are handled with a certain humor and detachment that makes them closer to Sinclair Lewis’s essentially harmless philistines than to Dos Passos’ own earlier dyed-in-history villains. But the chronic pressure of ideology on incident, unavoidable in a writer who is both politically responsive and in the process of revising his views, plays havoc with the novel’s language and structure.
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