Margey Wins The Game. By John V. A. Weaver. Knopf.
This here story’s about a Jane named Margey that used to rub the 3-in-l off the tall part of straight chairs whenever she tried to step out on the polished pine, until none of her dresses never had no backs to them. She shook a mean Conrad, but she thought Chicago was a city instead of a patent shimmee.
All she wanted was to light the candles and vamp teachers with them jazz proverbs they call epa grams. She was no Gloria Swanson, but she wouldn’t gag you in a close-up. The trouble was her duds looked like she was trying to say it with towels, and she had no more line than a cow has cuticle.
Well, her brother was a mean guy, and he told her- that as a flapper she was the bunk. That made this Souse Baker sore, and as he was sort of a simple duke that had been a school inspector all his life he said lay off. And that starts the signal for the jazz to begin.
Well, this guy Souse Baker he dressed this Margey up like she was a super in a Cecil B.de Mille Civil War-feature and then he blind-folded her and shoved her in front of a lot of pink-blooded he-men at a cake-eaters’ ball. From her shoes up to the roll of her stockings she was Ziegfeld stuff, so they fell for Souse’s bunk and began chasing her around like she would give them a job or something.
By the time they got the blinders off her she had a lot of them bound and gagged, and they stuck around just from habit because everybody was there and they didn’t want that they should be lonesome. But this Souse guy was getting stuck on her hisself, so he had a tough time whenever she went to some swell dive with one of the other cake-eaters. But the Jane thought it was all the bunk anyways.
She wanted to light up the tallows and swap highbrow jokes with a book-weasel from the big school. She didn’t let on though for a while because she was sorry for the guy Souse, so she kept shaking the weight off her shoulders until she got a bid to the gas-fitters’ ball, which was considered swell—and which was what she wanted so everybody would think she was a big cheese and then she could sneak back to the bulge-brain that she was really nuts about…
I give up. I can’t do it. It requires a Rabelasian imagination and a patent Roth memory. Let me introduce you to John V. A. Weaver, who can.
After the immediate and deserved success of “In American” he has bubbled over into semi-dialect prose. The new book—it runs, I imagine, into less than 20,000 wards—is called “Margey Wins the Game,” a bright, ebullient story, shot through with sentiment and dedicated to the proposition that personal magnetism can be captured in the set snare of self-confidence.
Marge (she becomes Marge once she’s past the title) is a wealthy wall flower—something rare in New York, but easily to be found in a thousand mid-Western country clubs. She lives in Chicago, thinly veiled under the name of Dearborn, amid those mysterious complexities of North Side and South Side and in that smoky, damp and essentially romantic atmosphere which overhangs our second metropolis and makes it so incomprehensible to all but the initiated inhabitant.
We meet the “Nebraska Glee Club,” a touch of exceptional humor, and attend a raid on an Italian cafe. The cross-section of gay Chicago is well done.’ The people, hastily sketched, are types, but convincing as such. The story is admirably constructed, and it seems to me that the author should do others of the same type and go a little more thoroughly into the matter, for the field is large and unexplored and he is well equipped to deal with it.
At present he has merely touched the surface with a highly amusing, swiftly moving tale of the jazz-nourished generation. But why only one story? My appetite is whetted for more.
Published in New York Tribune newspaper (May 7, 1922, section IV).