Betty Smith G. E. Miles - Essay

G. E. Miles

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Aside] from the paucity of Miss Smith's writing powers, the deficiencies of ["Tomorrow Will Be Better"] are great enough to exclude it from even the most summery of summer readings.

The aim to exploit Brooklyn is obvious, but the result fails to communicate any special sense of place…. There is not a single memorable image, no sensory impressions of odors or sounds of Brooklyn and Brooklyn flats, and no real understanding of the squalor of Brooklyn poor. The method used to denote the special geography of the story is restricted almost entirely to dialogue—and a monotonous burlesque it is—which marks the characters as queers, beloved by Miss Smith it must be presumed, but queers just the same. (pp. 503-04)

There are a number of possible projects available for the writer of fiction from the lives of the poor Irish Catholic of Brooklyn. The development of these ideas requires a little imagination and a little care if the writer is to avoid cuteness and caricature. At the moment, the only quality of Miss Smith I can pay honor to is her persistence. (p. 504)

G. E. Miles, "Books: 'Tomorrow Will Be Better'," in Commonweal (copyright © 1948 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; copyright renewed © 1976 by Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. XLVIII, No. 21, September 3, 1948, pp. 503-04.