“The Boys Go Literary” (E54)

  • Originally printed: The New Yorker, November 5, 1927
  • First reprinted in:  Never reprinted
  • Original Byline:  Guy Fawkes



In this early installment of The Wayward Press (so early it’s called “The Press in Review” instead), Guy Fawkes expresses grudging admiration for a fit of aberrantly elevated expression which gripped the city’s newspapers in October 1927. Writing in an appreciative mood more reminiscent of Robert Benchley, Broadway’s most doggedly delighted dramatic critic, than of Guy Fawkes, celebrated foe of the Fourth-Rate Estate, the author heaps promiscuous acclaim upon the various outlets’ moving memoranda on the deaths of Mexican General Alfredo Quijano and NYC underworld figure James “Little Augie” Orgen.

Fawkes does recover some of his wonted facetiousness in time to question the World’s step too far into sonorousness in its October 22nd issue, which he describes as a series of short story prize entries laid end to epiphanic end. Benchley stays with that much-abused organ as he coasts toward the close on a tongue-in-cheek treasure hunt for the faltering World’s late 1920s signature dog, cat, and pony show puff pieces on companionate creatures. He locates only one in this unusually highfalutin month of issues, although he briefly considers lumping a press release on the Rockefellers at play in with the rest of the animal antics.

Favourite Moment:

Once again, we must complain of the World’s household-pet news. After a frantic search of the files for the past three weeks, the only really exclusive story in this field appears to be the one on October 19 in which it is told (with two photographs) how Ethelbert, the cat in the County Clerk’s office, sits by the mail chute watching the letters drop past and tries unsuccessfully to stop them. A very pretty story, and told in that sharp, incisive manner which characterizes all the World’s animal news, but hardly sufficient for three weeks’ reading.