Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
Waiting for Nothing and Other Writings (edition 2004)
by Tom Kromer (Author), Arthur D. Casciato (Editor), James L. W. West III (Editor)
Waiting for Nothing and Other Writings by Tom Kromer
No current Talk conversations about this book.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (2)
In "Waiting for Nothing" and Other Writings, the works of the depression-era writer Tom Kromer are collected for the first time into a volume that depicts with searing realism life on the bum in the 1930s and, with greater detachment, the powerless frustration of working-class people often too locked in to know their predicament.Waiting for Nothing, Kromer's only completed novel, is largely autobiographical and was written at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in California. It tells the story of one man drifting through America, east coast to west, main stem to side street, endlessly searching for "three hots and a flop"--food and a place to sleep. Kromer scans, in first-person voice, the scattered events, the stultifying sameness, of "life on the vag"--the encounters with cops, the window panes that separate hunger and a "feed," the bartering with prostitutes and homosexuals. In "Michael Kohler," Kromer's unfinished novel, the harsh existence of coal miners in Pennsylvania is told in a committed, political voice that reveals Kromer's developing affinity with leftist writers including Lincoln Steffens and Theodore Dreiser. An exploration of Kromer's proletarian roots, "Michael Kohler" was to be a political novel, a story of labor unions and the injustices of big management. Kromer's other work ranges from his college days, when he wrote a sarcastic expose of the bums in his hometown titled "Pity the Poor Panhandler: $2 an Hour Is All He Gets," to the sensitive pieces of his later life--short stories, articles, and book reviews written more out of an aching understanding of suffering than from the slick formulas of politics. Waiting for Nothing remains, however, Kromer's most powerful achievement, a work Steffens called "realism to the nth degree." Collected here as the major part of Kromer's oeuvre, Waiting for Nothing traces the author's personal struggle to preserve human virtues and emotions in the face of a brutal and dehumanizing society.
No library descriptions found.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.52Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1900-1944
Is this you?
Become a LibraryThing Author.
It turns out that Kromer, before becoming ill with tuberculosis and spending most of the rest of his life as an invalid, did write a little more. Most notable is his attempt at a novel, Michael Kohler, which, like Waiting for Nothing, turns out to be largely autobiographical, though it begins before the author's birth. The chapters that were completed, in fact, form a pretty complete story of a couple coming to America and seeing their dream turn into a nightmare of deadly work in a West Virginia coal mine and their son's witness to a series of tragic events. At the end of what was written, he has started a new life in at least a slightly better place, but as the synopsis Kromer provided in his failed attempt for a Guggenheim grant shows, more travails were to come. Michael Kohler succeeds in providing some intense images of horror, but the overall lack of characterization, if not addressed, would have doomed it as a great work of literature.
The other Kromer writings are a hodgepodge, but the short fiction pieces are impressive, showing an active militancy that is lacking in the first person narrative of Waiting for Nothing. There are also some book reviews, including a scathing review of Edward Anderson's Hungry Men (which I have reviewed favorably here on LibraryThing). This was Anderson's first novel, before the more famous Thieves Like Us, and from Kromer's viewpoint, the criticism is justified. It is not a novel intended to capture the real lives of "Hungry Men"--but it is a great story, nevertheless.
The editors' short biography of Kromer and his works is also helpful. There isn't a lot of information to dig up, and it is rather sad to think of Kromer, who seems to have stopped writing in 1936 or so, living out the more than thirty years remaining in his life as an invalid, apparently sitting in front of a TV set much of the time. This volume, however, is proof that as slim as his writings were, he was an important author and still well worth reading.
Highly recommended. ( )