Jonathan Kozol Granville Hicks - Essay

Granville Hicks

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The elements of which "The Fume of Poppies" is made are] travel and sex, and Mr. Kozol writes about both with likable enthusiasm.

Young as he is, Mr. Kozol has learned a good deal about the craft of writing, and the book has many excellent pages, but it stays close to the surface. During the first three-quarters of the novel, while Wendy and the boy are having fun, this doesn't matter, but it is a serious drawback when, on the voyage home [from a tour of Europe], the romance blows up. The explosion, which is ugly, is effectively rendered, but we realize that we don't know enough about either the narrator or Wendy to understand why it has to happen, and the narrator's explanation, which has something to do with "being an American and acting as though you weren't," doesn't help much. After that, Mr. Kozol steers the novel to a neatly sardonic ending, proving once more that he is a clever craftsman, but a backward glance leaves the reader disappointed. (p. 17)

Granville Hicks, "Young Love," in Saturday Review (copyright © 1958 by Saturday Review; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. XLI, No. 41, October 11, 1958, pp. 17, 51.∗

["The Fume of Poppies" is a] very short, fresh-colored novel about two American college students who are able to love each other as enthusiastically and as romantically as they please, because they have a fair quantity of ready cash, some imagination, some ruthlessness, and a reasonable amount of a kind of courage that might most accurately be described as daring…. Mr. Kozol, who writes bravely, directly, and with style, shines particularly in the few pages, glowing with love, that introduce his story, and in the short chapter, sour as sour grapes, that ends it. (pp. 205-06)

"Books: 'The Fume of Poppies'," in The New Yorker (© 1958 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. XXXIV, No. 36, October 18, 1958, pp. 205-06.