Paul Gallico Essay - Critical Essays

Gallico, Paul

Gallico, Paul 1897–

An American novelist now living in Monaco, Gallico is the author of the "Mrs. Harris" stories, The Snow Goose, and The Poseidon Adventure. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.)

[To] remind us of such as the Titanic and the Andrea Doria, here is Paul Gallico's last log of the S.S. Poseidon [The Poseidon Adventure] an old trans-Atlantic leviathan capsized by a stupendous tidal wave. Some 15 souls survive in the upside-down hull—and, led by a muscular evangelist, they begin an arduous climb topside. As they claw their way through the entrails of the doomed liner, Mr. Gallico collects a Grand Hotel full of shipboard dossiers. These interlocking histories may be damp with sentimentality as well as brine—but the author's skill as a storyteller invests them with enough suspense to last the desperate journey.

Martin Levin, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1969 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), August 24, 1969, pp. 26-7.

Back comes the ship-of-fools idea, but with, to use a dreadful pun, a twist. Paul Gallico's new slant to the idea [in "The Poseidon Adventure"], and the fact that gives him his crises, is that the ship is upside down. Moreover, Mr. Gallico's roster of fools is not only individualized but highly distinctive—perhaps the variations on this particular theme are endless. This story of one select body of passengers making its way over all sorts of obstacles in the inverted hull of a great liner has too much of the sort of reflection in which fictional characters always indulge during protracted crises; and, as a parable, the tale is either very obscure or else it is saying something quite wild. Yet the characters are intriguing and the incidents—granted that there are too many of them—are interesting.

William B. Hill, S. J., in Best Sellers, September 1, 1969.

Fans of Paul Gallico, and they are legion, are in for a treat with the publication of ["Matilda"]. At a time when sex and violence are considered necessary ingredients for a best seller, Mr. Gallico continues to write books which are simply fiction for the sake of recreation….

"Matilda" makes no great contribution to American literature but it can be recommended for leisure time reading.

Charles Dollen, in Best Sellers, July 1, 1970.

Paul Gallico has both the qualities and the defects which go with being so conspicuously professional a writer. The advantage is that every page comes out as smooth as homogenised milk. The plot structure works perfectly. The whole thing is mildly and effortlessly enjoyable, much as a well-made Hollywood television series is mildly enjoyable….

[The] advantage of Mr. Gallico's bland professionalism [is that the] stories have no bite, no emotion, no real suspense even. The Zoo Gang offers agreeable entertainment for a very wide range of readers: but not one of them is ever likely to include it on a list of favourite books.

Anthony Lejeune, in Books and Bookmen, February, 1972, p. 63.