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The Spike or Victoria University College Review September 1925

Our Book Column

Our Book Column.

Comparatively few books have come to hand since our last review in these columns, and fewer still are worth mention here. One or two, however, deserve notice, and this they shall be given accordingly.

An increase is to be observed in the output of works of fiction, and an admirable example of this type is "University Reform in Gods Own Country," by Columbo and Columbine." The joint authors have undertaken a production not at all dissimilar to the famous Erewhon," of Samuel Butler, and attempt to show, for instance, the effect if students were able to gain much-needed sleep in the evening instead of attending lectures. "Liber" finds himself in total agreement with the authors in their tirade against the idea of "One Big University." He agrees that the University is not, like the Public Service, for the benefit of students, but, unlike the Public Service, is for the benefit of the public; more like the Fire Brigade, for instance. Here our authors pursue the illustration further. Supposing, they say, there were One Big Fire Brigade. An agitated member of the public might ring up one of the many numbers appearing below "Government Department-Fire" to ask for assistance in quelling a household fire, and something like the following conversation would ensue:—

Agitated M.P.: "Is that—are you the-is that the Fire Brigade?"

Official Voice: "Oh, this is Head Office. Just ring our Branch number, will you and they'll fix you up straight away?"

A.M.P. tries next number on list: "Is that the Fire Brigade?" O.V. No. 2: "Yes, but this is Audit here. Ring Inquiries No. 45610."

A.M.P., becoming more agitated, rings Inquiries: "Are you there!! Is that Fire Brigade Inquiries?"

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O.V. No. 3: "Speaking."

A.M.P.: "I want the Fire Brigade—at once!"

O.V. No. 3: "Oh, er-write in to us, will you, giving us full particulars, and we will send you a form to fill in."

This short excerpt, taken verbatim from Chapter XVI., serves as an illustration of the lively style in which "University Reform" is written. A profitable book for a leisure hour.

Technical works and reminiscences, however, are not wanting. The second volume of "Famous Victorian Trials" is an example of the former, "Around the Dinner Table," a specimen of the latter. "Famous Victorian Trials" is by P. J. G. Smith, I. L. Hjorring, and others, and deals with a case on libel in which that part of the law of evidence dealing with identity is fully discussed, and an interesting case between two corporations on wrongful conversion of trust moneys. "Around the Dinner Table "is by several members of the legal fraternity, and deals with the merry art of entertainment. They one and all pay high tribute to a certain Professor, noted for his genial hospitality. It was the custom of the dear old man, when giving a dinner, to have a written resume of conversational topics beside his plate; thus the flow of wit and merriment was never allowed to run dry.

Fiction is represented by "The Further Resurrections of Sherlock Holmes." The straits to which the well-known creator of this character is reduced to maintain the popularity of his hero are indicated in the incredible "Affair of the Broken Hat Pegs." The inevitable Watson recounts how Holmes' archenemy, Professor Moriarty, embarks upon an extensive programme of sabotage with the object of securing possession of the funds of the students of Kictoria College. Holmes circumvents him and clears the character of the brilliant young College Adonis, Bjoracks Kjorracks, who, becoming converted to the doctrine that "sapentia magis auro desideranda," makes a present of the aforesaid funds to Holmes. Holmes thereupon philanthropically expends them in buying lighter-weight headgear for the students of the College and retires to the United States to pursue his investigations of spiritism, A book to read on the run.

"Marooned," by John S. Yeates, is a thrilling tale of the ad-ventures of a brilliant young scientist among the savages of the Arawa. The arduous tramps undertaken by the hero in his efforts to pursue his journey by land gained him the title of "The Travelling Scholar." The book is a fine lesson to students afflicted with the wanderlust.