The Spike or Victoria College Review 1946
There is synthesis and there is disintegration. Nine out of the ten entries in this competition may fairly be taken as symptomatic of disintegration—of a point of view from which the human kind appear to be making a poor job of the business of living.
No. 1 is a tale of promiscuous fornication and alcoholic escapism.
No. 2 describes a debauch; its characters, virile fellows are throwing their weight about with a conscious irrationality.
No. 3 though tinged with sentiment nevertheless strives for a fatalism at once despondent and hard boiled.
No. 4 deals with the suicidal woebegoneness of what might be termed a "second rate sensitive mind."
No. 5 ends with the merciless blasting out of existence of its hero though he has gleams of hope at the beginning of the story. The moral here seems to be. 'Even if you have sand and sense you will succumb to a scheme of things in itself senseless.'
No. 6 makes ribald fun of the tendency of a typical modern school of poetry to express self flagrant emotions in disorderly ejaculations.
No. 7 with sardonic intent describes the building of an ivory tower which when completed will prove to be a padded cell.
No. 8 reaches the logical and tenable conclusion that an art and philosophy that do not concern themselves with life as it has to be lived are a forcing bed for fascist phantasies to sprout from.
No. 9 gives a sample of the petty backyard hostilities of a middle class neighbourhood and draws the conclusion that these rills of small minded bitterness combine into a flood tide of antagonism whose outlet is bound to be war.
In such lucid dispassionate pessimism typical of our bedevilled epoch or is it due to a mood that has always been characteristic of adolescent writers. Certainly our own age is as morally and mentally prostrate as any known to history; but certainly also youth in all times has had to endure and to protest against a grown up society which when one gets to know it is found to be no better than it should be.
Perhaps A. Calder Marshall provides a clue to so much negation when he says of the short stroy, "Its brevity is difficult to adapt to social purposes and, used injudiciously, it is liabable to become defeatist." The entries for this competition are most of them very short.
The three entries adjudged best are by writers who have given finish to their efforts.
First: An Evening at Peyrots, by Dorian Saker.
Second: Saturday Night, by Frank Ponton.
Third: Flowers of Love, by J. o. Hagan.
Any one of the first five writers might in the opinion of the judge hope to achieve competence in prose composition given the essential amount of drudging persistence, for prose, as H. L. Mencken grimly insisted is, alas, anything but a careless rapture.
—F. L. Combs