You Can’t Go Home Again

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

George Webber returns to Libya Hill, a small town in the South, to find it is no longer the peaceful place of his youth. The town is caught up in frenzied real estate speculation that precedes the stock market crash of 1929. Then publication of his first novel angers Libya Hill’s citizens; they write him abusive, threatening letters.

Back in New York, Webber ends a love affair with a stage designer and moves to Brooklyn, determined to live among ordinary people and devote himself to his next book.

When the book is finished, Webber travels to Europe. In London he meets Lloyd McHarg, an American writer who is all Webber yearns to be. Webber is disillusioned when he discovers that McHarg is an alcoholic, unfulfilled by his fame and success.

In Germany, where both his first and second books have been well received, Webber tastes fame and success, but he is troubled by the fear and hate which the Nazi regime has aroused since coming to power, and by the tyranny the Nazis have imposed on the country. Webber had lived happily in Germany before his first book was published. Now he realizes, just as he had when he returned to Libya Hill, that he cannot be at home in Germany, either.

Returning to America, Webber breaks with his editor. His view of his role as a writer and his editor’s view are irreconcilable. In a long letter to his editor, Webber reviews his whole life and announces his intention to arouse the conscience of America against selfishness and...

(The entire section is 614 words.)