The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)
A Wonderful dream that came true and that materialised in a book—surely a young journalist could wish for nothing grander!
Because he is a dreamer and a poet—that rare bird, a happy philosophic poet—Ian Donnelly may sit in peace and draw a glorious dividend from the Bank of Memory, and, I trust, a more material golden dividend from the Bank of Book Royalties. His “The Joyous Pilgrimage,” just published by Dents, tells of his recent trip to England, what he saw there, the famous people he met, what he thought there, and finally, in a practical summing up (the most brilliantly written portion of the book) why he left, in spite of his love of London, to return to New Zealand. Howard Marshall observes in his introduction that he felt sad over young Donnelly's hopes of having his diary published—where so many had failed before him; but, “Mr. Donnelly has the makings of a great detective in him.” This is where the author succeeded. His disguise was his “solidity.” He “sleuthed” for something new from famous persons and places, as a master Sherlock Holmes of the pen. He has presented such a case, so finely constructed, that simply must interest the Lower and Higher Courts of Readerdom, and the verdict must be that Detective Donnelly has made a sensational literary coup.
For the reader it is indeed a joyous pilgrimage. The deft literary touch of the author deals swiftly and surely with each contact and impression. We see Steve Donoghue at the Derby and a minute later listen to the “attractively modulated” voice of Philip Guedalla; in a moment we are having thundered at us the “burning messages” of Marble Arch orators, then to stand on the next page in spirit alongside the grave of William Blake (and Donnelly knows his Blake); we meet Gracie Fields, G. K. Chesterton, De Valera and Walter de la Mare, and then spend a wonderful hour at Lords witnessing a Test Match. From time to time, with Pepysian relish, the author describes how he did eat and drink at such and such a tavern.
Concluding this brief review of a book so vastly interesting. I cannot help emphasising an answering note I feel in Mr. Marshall's introduction, and that is “if this book is appreciated as much overseas as it will be at home, Mr. Donnelly's pilgrimage will not only have been joyous, but valuable to the cause of Empire.”
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The Auckland “Observer” is always interesting because it gives us news. Its news is made up of 75 per cent, of personalities. This, I think, is the main reason for its perpetual interest. Also, I like its literary criticisms—they are often bold and are invariably sound. Finally, let me heartily applaud its recent two colmun tribute to C. R. Allen, of Dunedin. Mr. Allen's work in prose and verse has had its first belated New Zealand recognition.
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Recently I received a visit from an aspiring short story writer who wished to know the main ingredients of a successful short story. I told him plot, atmosphere, character delineation, action, compelling dialogue—that the beginning and end of the story must be arresting. I smiled to myself therefore the other day when I happened upon the following “short story” submitted to an American page 56 literary journal (you will note it contains the successful ingredients!):—“Once there was a merderer with yeller eyes. And his wife said to him: ‘If you merder me you will be hanged.’ And he was hanged on Tuesday next.”
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