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BEING
READ:

The Career of
Howard Fast

 

An Exhibition Drawn from
THE HOWARD FAST COLLECION

 

Kamin Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
University of Pennsylvania

March 23-July 1, 1994

 

by Daniel Traister

 

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Libraries, 1994
© Copyright 1994 The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania


Preface

Being Read: The Career of Howard Fast suggests a narrative – if not several narratives – and acknowledges a relationship. Howard Fast is part of a singularly American literary tradition of authorial engagement with major social and political issues of the moment. His work is quite literally "momentous." Penn's interest in this tradition and in its archival embodiments is a deeply rooted one among our faculty. Going back to Arthur Hobson Quinn early in this century and continuing through E. Sculley Bradley and Robert E. Spiller, faculty in Penn's English and American Civilization Departments have worked closely with Library staff to build collections that document this particular trajectory of American letters. Those collections now include the works and papers of Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Waldo Frank, and Van Wyck Brooks, among many others. And Howard Fast.

This is the first time Penn's Libraries have exhibited materials from the Howard Fast Collection. It is long overdue, as is the reappraisal of Fast's work it suggests. Just as Being Read acknowledges relationships and documents traditions, it is also an invitation to consult a collection and the career it preserves and represents. It is also an argument for a rereading.

Many people have had a hand in this exhibit. Our thanks above all go to Howard and Bette Fast, whose unstinting generosity and warm hospitality have encouraged us from the beginning. After several trips to Connecticut to visit the Fasts, we were not sure if we were returning for additions to the collection or for another helping of Bette's tarte Tatin. Daniel Traister of the Department of Special Collections served as curator of the exhibition and author of the present text. Raymond Van De Moortell and Michele Miller, also of the Department of Special Collections, lent their special talents to the design and production of the show. Paul H. Mosher, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, has been supportive of the project all along.

Michael T. Ryan
Director of Special Collections

BEING
READ:

The Career of
Howard Fast

1. Introduction

In 1933, Dial Press in New York published Two Valleys, the first novel by a young man named Howard Melvin Fast. The publisher's blurb noted that "Mr. Fast is not yet nineteen" (Fast was born in 1914). In 1993, Crown published The Trial of Abigail Goodman, another novel by Howard Fast.

Sixty years lie between Two Valleys and Abigail Goodman. In that time, Howard Fast has produced an oeuvre uncommonly large for a serious American writer: books in several genres; stories equally varied and numerous; plays; scripts for radio, television, and the screen; and much occasional prose. Many of his works quickly entered public consciousness. Citizen Tom Paine, Freedom Road, Spartacus, and April Morning, among others, continue to retain a place in popular awareness. Almost as uncommonly for a serious American writer, Fast has also followed an active public career. He has been, among other things, a wartime and, later, political journalist and activist; foreign correspondent; candidate for public office; publisher; worker for the government's Office of War Information; newspaper columnist; and inmate at a federal penitentiary. Fast has actually lived out what, for most people, has seemed one of the great literary myths of our time: he is the artist as l'homme engagé.

Fast nonetheless worries that his politics – not only a leftist orientation but also actual Communist Party membership, complicated by a very public 1957 withdrawal from the Party – and his popularity have both combined to diminish his reputation. A critical establishment predisposed to mistrust his works for their political stance, or for his presumed departure from that stance, is, Fast suspects, also doubtful that books which sell as well as his do can be any good.

The Howard Fast Collection
at the University of Pennsylvania

Choosing to collect Howard Fast in extenso, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries have made a different judgment. The Howard Fast Collection contains Fast's literary works in printed form – in the English language, in reprints, and in foreign-language translations that show his world-wide reception. Manuscript notes, typewritten drafts (with handwritten and pasted-on corrections) of published and unpublished works, and printers' galleys, many also revised, reveal something of Fast's creative processes. In addition, his political and journalistic work; his children's, genre, and pseudonymous publications; and family, public, and political photographs and ephemera: all these materials help to fill out our sense of Fast's exceptionally active, varied, and productive literary career. As time goes by, the Collection will add such examples of his literary, personal, and political correspondence and papers as survive.

The Howard Fast Collection, in short, provides a basis for future students, scholars, and readers seeking to reach their own judgments. It documents the literary and public career of a writer who, both read and red, has been a very considerable presence in American letters from the 1930s to the present and yet remains to be understood, assessed, or even recognized. The importance of such a record for students of twentieth-century American letters is difficult to overstate. Readers and critics both may ultimately award him a higher stature than current fashions allow. Even were this expectation to prove false, however, a twentieth-century American political writer and figure at once so representative and so idiosyncratic as Fast will continue to elicit interest and demand study. Students and scholars will find the Howard Fast Collection an ongoing resource for work on an author who, once easy to ignore for "being red," will go on "being read" for some time to come.

Being Read: The Career of Howard Fast accompanies the first exhibition mounted by the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center to show the resources of the Howard Fast Collection. A brief checklist of the exhibition is available as a separate handout. The present text, by briefly surveying Fast's career, introduces the writer and indicates the kind of materials which the Fast Collection contains.

2. Starting Out

The 1933 publication of Fast's Two Valleys announced the arrival of a new American writer of real interest. By 1942, when The Unvanquished appeared, Fast had become an established presence in the American literary firmament. That novel was soon reprinted in Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer's Modern Library, then the commercial equivalent of admission to literary canonization. Fast's books were not only praised, they also sold well. As a result, Fast also found ready and frequent access as a writer of short stories to such "pulp" magazine markets as Romance and to such "slicks" as The Saturday Evening Post and Woman's Day. Such success made it possible for him to earn a living sufficient to marry and start a family.

Fast's own family had been broken by a parent's death and harassed by poverty. Not yet nine when his mother died, Fast remembers sharing a dreadfully deprived youth with his brother, Jerome, in the wake of her death. Their childhood was impoverished not only financially but also emotionally. Rena, an older sister, fled from the disintegrating household into an early marriage. Julius, an infant brother, was separated from the two older boys shortly after the death of their mother. (Like Howard, Julius would also become a writer.) Their father proved unable to provide his two older boys with much sustenance of any sort following his wife's death. "We lived . . . [in] a wretched slum apartment," Fast recalled many years later in Being Red, "made lovely by the wit and skill and determination of my mother; but after her death . . . the place simply disintegrated . . . [and in] his depression, my father seemed unaware of what was happening."

Fast was eventually to write his way out of this background. But he never forgot it. The Children, first published as a very long short story in Whit Burnett's Story (March 1937), appeared ten years later as a short novel. One of Fast's most sustained and brilliant fictions, it has never found the audience it deserves. Fast recalls that he got the idea for the voice he used in this story from Henry Roth's magnificent 1934 novel, Call It Sleep, but Roth was not the only influence on Fast's novel. Extraordinarily bleak, The Children deals with a lynching. It is not set in some distant, imagined South but in Fast's own well-known and well-remembered Manhattan. The lynching, racially directed but complexly motivated, is perpetrated not by warped and horrifying adults but by deprived and thoughtless urban street children, very much the sort of children among whom Fast himself had grown up. In fact, the plot is based on an incident which continued to gnaw at Fast all his life. He would retell the story yet again, but as memoir rather than fiction, in Being Red.

Fast's fame now rests largely on his historical novels and his various evocations of American Jewish life. Conceived in Liberty (1939) was the first of his historical novels to achieve substantial success; other books composed early in his career, usually for children, laid a foundation for Fast's later stories on Jewish themes. A novel such as The Children recalls, however, a quite different kind of work which, although it contributed significantly to Fast's early reputation, is neglected now. Yet Fast's early critical reputation depended in some measure on work which (like Roth's Call It Sleep) could be valued as proletarian fiction. "Proletarian" had not yet become a dirty word. The Children is a superb representative of this aspect of Fast's early work.

Despite Fast's other activities, some the result of his marriage to Bette Cohen and the start of their family, others the result of governmental and journalistic positions which he took up when World War II broke out, he produced numerous books during the late thirties and forties. They continued to receive good notices and were frequently reprinted both in hardbound and paperback editions. Some appeared in Armed Services Editions for distribution during and immediately after the War to American servicemen and -women. All seemed to help solidify a literary reputation that, moving from success to success, had nowhere to go but up.

On the dust-jacket of the 1943 first edition of Citizen Tom Paine, his publisher wrote that Fast "has long been a name on the critics' lips" and added that, with this book, he became "one of the few major American novelists." Even if Fast's readers in that year had paused to consider the promotional nature of a publisher's puff, few would have found much hyperbole in these laudatory words. They seemed but the sober truth. They were, however, quite wrong.

3. Politics

Fast has told and retold stories about his engagement in the political battles of his time. Being Red, his 1990 autobiography, is the most recent version of this tale. He has also written others, such as The Naked God (1957). Several of them reveal his sense of anger and lingering pain.

Fast lavished time from his working life as a writer on leftist causes in general and the Communist Party specifically. He helped staff The Daily Worker, attended various world congresses called to consider one issue or another, was imprisoned on federal charges in 1950, and campaigned for public office two years later. In addition to producing works of literary imagination, he also wrote political tracts. His books on Sacco and Vanzetti and on the 1949 Peekskill, New York, riots when Paul Robeson tried to perform are longer examples of this sort of work, but he wrote many shorter pieces, as well. Moreover, he also wrote tracts about literature which tried to bridge his literary and political ideals. Literature and Reality (1950) appeared the same year he went to prison. It would be difficult to estimate the time, energy, and commitment he spent upon Party and Party-related causes.

His 1957 resignation from the Party was thus a source of great anguish. It cost Fast several friendships, and some regard, from former colleagues on the left. Yet it brought him no new companionship or regard from the right – not that he sought either. Following his resignation, he had to forge a new and independent public and political stance. Simultaneously, he faced widespread opprobrium and serious threats to his ability to pursue his livelihood. These problems made the mere support of his young family a much more pressing issue than Fast would have had reason to expect during his earlier successes. They fell upon him as a result of his involvement with a Party which, he now felt, had betrayed the very ideals that had originally attracted him to it. His sense of betrayal parallels the feelings of many in his generation who had taken up leftist political activities in their search for social justice. Unlike many others of his disillusioned contemporaries, however, Fast – even after leaving the Communist Party – continued to seek such justice from a politics of the left.

Several of Fast's novels – Silas Timberman ( 1954) and The Story of Lola Gregg ( 1956) are among the most powerful – represent the issues that dominated this period of Fast's life. Silas Timberman speaks directly to the concerns of an academic community under attack from people who sought to "purify" the university of carriers of tainted thoughts. That community collapsed ignobly, as Fast showed readers through his depiction of Silas, a non-Communist English teacher at a midwestern state university who winds up in prison because of his disinclination to participate in local civil defense measures. Far from supporting him, his institution's leadership cooperates with those who seek his dismissal and prosecution. The closely related Lola Gregg also looks at ordinary people caught in the swirl of political emotionalism as America entered the Cold War and what one historian has called "the Great Fear." Lola's husband is, only slightly less than Silas Timberman, a political naif, but he, too, is swallowed up by his era's fears. Both his world and, ultimately, his life, are disrupted beyond repair.

Fast's views have not remained static but his interests have always remained political. His more recent fictions continue to explore political themes, as did his earlier ones. They continue to do so from a perspective which is normally critical of current political tendencies. As congenitally out of step with modern orthodoxies as ever he was with older ones, Fast remains a political and literary contrarian.

4. Troubled Times

[I] The Blue Heron Press

In Being Red, Fast describes how, as the 1940s drew to a close, his normal trade publishing outlets turned away from and rejected his new books, despite the critical and popular acclaim his earlier works had received – and despite the sales they continued to attain. This turnabout was a result, in part, of the poor sales of such postwar books as The American (1946) and Clarkton (1947). More importantly, Fast felt, it reflected pressures analogous to those simultaneously affecting the broadcasting, screen, and theatrical media and known collectively as "the blacklist." Fast cites the direct intervention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a major source of this blow to his career.

After the manuscript of Fast's novel Spartacus (1951) had received multiple rejections, some from publishers who had once been pleased to produce his books, a person at Doubleday urged Fast to publish it himself. George Hecht felt strongly that Doubleday had rejected a major commercial prospect. He guaranteed to purchase numerous copies of any edition of the book that Fast published for distribution through Doubleday's chain of bookstores. Thus discouraged, on the one hand, and encouraged, on the other, Fast found himself the self-publisher of his own Spartacus at The Blue Heron Press, the imprint he established in order to follow Hecht's advice. Operating out of their home – then at 43 West 94th Street in Manhattan – Fast and his wife published the book and sold (as he recalled) more than 48,000 copies of it in three months.

Other books followed over the Blue Heron imprint, among them The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1953) and Silas Timberman. The Press also published other writers unable, in the peculiar atmosphere of that time, to receive normal publication and distribution in the United States. W. E. B. Du Bois's classic The Souls of Black Folk (Du Bois once taught at Penn) and a work by radical poet Walter Lowenfels were among the books which Blue Heron printed. Fast retained a small cache of manuscripts and papers relating to this venture – as well, of course, as the books themselves. Some of both have entered the Fast Collection.

[II] Genre Writing

Fast's best known works are his historical novels and those on Jewish themes but he has also written many novels with contemporary settings. Both his historical and his Jewish novels frequently have a relationship to contemporary issues which makes them more than exercises in nostalgia. Others of his historical tales may appear to be specimens of genre fiction: The Last Frontier (1941) has a western setting and a few of Fast's short stories have been anthologized in collections of western tales. He seems, however, less a writer of "westerns" than of historical fictions some of which are set in the old west. He has also written for children since the 1930s, but these books are also too minor a part of his output to warrant his consideration as a children's writer.

On the other hand, although they are less well known than his historical, Jewish, and contemporary novels, Fast's works in two other conventional genres, mystery and science-fiction, are not at all minor aspects of his literary production. As a mystery writer, Fast used two pseudonyms: Walter Ericson and E. V. Cunningham. Some Cunningham titles have begun to reappear in this decade over Fast's own name. The dustjacket of the 1992 republication of Sylvia, for instance, tells prospective readers that "Fast . . . had written the book at a time when he was hounded by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI for his then radical views.... But Fast could not stop writing." The mysteries which were one result of this compulsion to write appeared with false names. As a science-fiction writer, Fast was able to use his own name.

Clearly, Fast turned to both forms for a variety of reasons. He had begun to write science-fiction as long ago as the late 1930s, after all – that is, at a time well before his "then radical views" were out of fashion. After the War, as the Sylvia dustjacket remarks, among the most important reasons was that his ability to publish books of the kind through which he had first established his reputation was severely hampered: the political interdiction beneath which he had fallen represented an effort, Fast felt, to silence him. But he also needed to work in forms that gave him latitude to try things which would have taxed the limits of more conventional novels.

Science-fiction, as a literary form, has been traditionally less conservative than conventional fiction. Both its formal properties and its range of permissible political points of view varied far from what was ordinarily allowed in popular fictions, particularly during the 1950s. Science-fiction editors offered Fast outlets which permitted him to keep his own name when he published stories with them. Indeed, several magazines in which his stories appeared made much of his turn to science-fiction, using his name and its literary and status associations to raise the status of their own venture. They also allowed Fast to explore political themes in his science fictions in ways which, as was long characteristic of the genre, were only slightly allegorized.

[III] A Public Man

Journalism and political writing, organizational work for the Communist Party, work for Henry Wallace's 1948 presidential campaign, his own run for public office in his 1952 Congressional campaign, and a variety of other public functions – or public burdens, not least among these his own trial and imprisonment – have been persistent aspects of Fast's career. A relatively recent novel like The Pledge (1988) reflects the older Fast's literary meditations upon his own more youthful public experiences. In this book, he recalls how, as a war correspondent, he encountered both British misrule in India and, at the same time, American attitudes towards a wartime and then Cold War ally which made disclosure of British brutally impossible. Political tracts, reportage for The Worker, and other occasional writing: all were to be a major (but not often collected or reprinted) aspect of his output during the '40s and '50s.

In 1950, after failing to testify before a Congressional committee in a way that the Committee deemed appropriate and then losing several appeals of his subsequent conviction for contempt of Congress, Fast served out his sentence in a federal penitentiary. He ran as an American Labor Party candidate for a New York City Congressional seat in 1952. He remained a member of the Communist Party for several more years, until, in 1957, he finally broke from it. His departure caused a considerable public stir, and many newspapers and magazines took note of it. Fast himself commented in several media about his disenchantment with the Party and resignation from it.

While Fast's distance from organized politics has increased with the passage of time, his ongoing engagement with the society in which he lives shows no corresponding tendency to decrease. Sixty years after his first novel appeared, Fast published not only another novel but also a collection of newspaper columns, War and Peace: Observations on Our Times (1993). Since agreeing to write these columns in December of 1988, he has used them to express his opinions, originally for The New York Observer, then for subscribers to the newspaper syndicate which picked up the column for national distribution. Fast's columns continue a lifelong critical engagement with American society into their author's eightieth year.

5. Popularity

Popularity and good sales are a serious writer's dream – but they may also prove a curse. Fast sometimes worries that his career demonstrates this paradox all too well. His books are often bestsellers. Many have been adopted for use in schools. They regularly attain massive paperback sales. They enjoy considerable foreign and foreign-language sales. In all these ways, they demonstrate Fast's power to win audiences.

Fast achieved such success with relative speed. Two Valleys, his first novel, appeared in 1933. An English edition appeared that same year but signified critical rather than financial benefits for the young writer. When, a few years ago, Fast saw a copy of the first American edition for sale for $500, he told the bookseller that $500 was more than he had earned for writing the book. But by 1942, only nine years after the publication of Two Valleys, "I was sitting right on top of eighteen pots of honey" (as Fast wrote in Being Red). "My third novel, The Last Frontier, . . . had been greeted as a 'masterpiece' . . . and my new novel, just published, called The Unvanquished, a story of the Continental Army's most desperate moment, had been called, by Time magazine who found in it a parallel for the grim present, 'the best book about World War II.' . . . [At this time, too,] I finished writing a book I would call Citizen Tom Paine" – a book which would bring Fast even more praise and high (and still ongoing) sales.

Other historical fictions such as Freedom Road (1944), a fictionalized introduction to the experience of African-Americans in the Reconstruction era, and April Morning ( 1961), the tale of a fifteen-year-old Lexington militiamen's experience at Concord, would also prove popular with the general public. As school texts, they would become, as they remain, consistent sources of income for their author. Between these two books, the self-published Spartacus (1951) would bring Fast success as a book; eventually, through its 1957 release as a movie, it would also help puncture the pretensions of the Hollywood Blacklist; and it would help Fast return to ordinary publishing venues. Slighter works, such as The Winston Affair (1959), would yield income both from their printed and from their movie versions (The Winston Affair became Man in the Middle, with Robert Mitchum and Trevor Howard).

In the 1990s, Fast continues to attract wide audiences, as sales of his series of novels on the Jewish-American immigrant experience attest. But he rarely finds the critical acclaim, or even the notice, which his earlier works achieved. This change may result from ordinary shifts in literary taste and fashion. It may result from an aversion to Fast's perceived political views. Or it may result from a general mistrust of broad popularly itself, Fast's or anyone else's. Whatever the explanation, Fast continues to write and to be read in and despite this context of general lack of notice or outright critical dismissal. His books continue to be used in classrooms and to sell very well in bookstores. Yet scholars and critics routinely notice other contemporary writers while ignoring Fast. Best-seller status is not always its own reward.

6. Later Work

Blacklisting, political disillusionment, imprisonment: there seem few modern public pitfalls which Fast has not encountered. Yet his ability to keep on writing and to produce at a prolific pace has, from all outward signs, not been affected by these difficulties in ways an ordinary reader would notice. He has produced successful books despite the most awkward situations. The first of the novels which postwar circumstances required him to self-publish, Spartacus, became a huge seller, despite its mode of publication and the general dismissal or utter lack of notice accorded the book by the media. April Morning (1961) appeared while Fast was still working his way out of the after-effects of his 1957 resignation from the Party. It, too, became another of his hugely successful historical novels and, like several of its predecessors, entered numerous classrooms.

Before World War II, and then during it, Fast published books on Jewish history for children and pamphlets on various Jewish themes. Eventually, he produced a non-fiction historical essay about The Jews (1968). After this book appeared, Fast seems to have felt prepared to write a series of novels concerned with the Jewish immigrant experience in America. These began with The Immigrants (1977) and achieved consistent bestsellerdom. He revisited Jewish themes in another novel, The Outsider (1984), which concerned a rabbi's experiences in a small Connecticut town.

The novel which Fast himself once called (in conversation) his best is The Hessian. Published in 1972, it appeared when Fast was well beyond the early stages of working his way through and out of his post-resignation political difficulties. By this time, too, he had regained some commercial success. He had not returned to critical favor, however. Perhaps as a result, The Hessian – in this respect very much like his 1937 story, The Children, published as a novel in 1947 – never found the audience it deserves. Quintessential Fast, it seems a pure historical tale which, set during the American Revolution, recalls a tiny military incident on Connecticut's High Ridge Road and its aftermath. Beautifully realized, its characters viewed with an astonishing combination of sympathy and objectivity, the novel is utterly rooted in its time and place. Yet few of its first readers can have failed to relate The Hessian to the defining political problem of the time when it was published, the American war in Vietnam.

Just by itself, the power of this book reveals a writer who deserves critical reevaluation. As has already been suggested, however – particularly with respect to The Children – any prolonged immersion in Fast's novels turns up several exceptional works of fiction. The Hessian is by no means unique among his works.

The Dinner Party (1987), The Pledge (1988), and The Confession of Joe Cullen (1989) are all overtly political novels, each highly critical of certain aspects of American life. The Trial of Abigail Goodman (1993) looks with a dubious eye at efforts to restrict a woman's right to an abortion. One might have expected an aging Fast to have slowed down his pace of writing or moderated the perspective from which he views American public life. But if he has in fact done either, the changes are not obvious. Another novel, Seven Days in June, is due in the fall of 1994.

7. Foreign Editions and Translations

Worldwide interest in Fast's work developed rapidly. Perhaps it derived from the fact that, as a friend once told him, "since Jack London, l was the first American writer to emerge from the working class." Whatever his class origins, and however readers responded to them, Fast's political views were well suited to the Depression era in which he began to write. But even a conservative journal such as Time could – could, at any rate, at the beginning of the 1940s – praise his work for its celebration of "American" war-time values.

Fast's books were exceedingly popular in the Soviet Union and the satellite nations of eastern Europe. Walter Felscher, now a professor at Tübingen but raised as a youth in East Germany, from which he eventually fled, remembers Fast's works as ubiquitous in bookstore windows in East Germany. A prominent American Communist party member, Fast attained to a popularly which, occasionally, translated not only into sales but also into royalties – somewhat unusual for Americans whose works were published for Russian and eastern European audiences. In fact, however, his works had attained transatlantic interest, and not only in the Soviet bloc, from the very first. Two Valleys, published in England in the same year it first appeared in this country, established a pattern of English interest in Fast's work which continues to this day. French, Italian, Rumanian, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Greek, Czech, Croat, Hebrew, Bengali, Chinese, and Japanese are only some of the more than eighty languages into which Fast's works have been translated.

The range and variety of foreign editions and translations of Fast's works indicate that, across the world, Fast is today among the most popular and best read of living American authors.

8. Being Red

Being Red (1990), a remarkable memoir in many ways, is Fast's political Apologia pro vita qua. Like many of his novels and short stories, it is available in paperback. Like many of those other works, it quickly achieved a classroom career. It has even been used as a text in classes at the University of Pennsylvania.

This book goes over some of the same ground Fast had earlier traversed in his 1957 Naked God. In that book, Fast similarly dealt – but, perhaps, from a perspective not yet quite distant or calm enough – with the impact of his involvement with the Communist Party. Clearly, the Party, its ideals, its betrayal of those ideals, and Fast's entry into, work for, and departure from it, remain among the determinants of Fast's own conception of his life and the shape his career has taken.

Fast sketched the plan for Being Red on some manila folders. His typescript, galleys, and the book itself are all part of the Fast Collection; the book has been an important source for this exhibition. More than a political self-exploration, Being Red is also an entrée into the life and work of an American author whose career took him into several fields which most of his contemporaries never experienced. Notable among these, as it would be for any novelist and writer, is self-publication. But the book also illuminates the issues, the stories, and the perspectives which this writer chose to adopt for his work throughout a long and highly productive career.

Its summary view of the impact of one of the great intellectual and political movements of our time on a sensitive, responsive, prolific, and influential American writer, however partial its view necessarily is, make its documentary value incalculable. Being Red sheds a bright and a raking light on Fast's view of his career and on his era.

If Fast had written nothing else, this one book would give him an abiding claim on our attention. But he has, in fact, written much more which demands renewed interest in his career and his works. The Fast Collection brings together the materials from which such interest will emerge. This is its raison d'être.


RETURN