from the dust jacket of the 1937 Harcourt, Brace first edition
Place in the City
This novel introduces a gifted writer of a new generation. His style is that of the contemporary realists in its lean power and its forthrightness. But his material is transformed by a sympathy which brings balance and beauty.
"Place in the City" is a story of a street in New York. Its people are Edwards, the young poet, with greatness almost within his grasp; Claus, the old music-master; and Anna whom they both love. There is Timy, a district politician, and Danny, his young lieutenant. Mary, the prostitute, is struggling with almost superhuman courage to earn a livelihood for young Peter and Sasha. Meyer spends his life in his cigar store, building paper security for his wife and daughters.
These and others are the cast. With an unerring ear for the speech of today, and with a structural sense which makes his climaxes as inevitable as they are startling, Howard Fast weaves together their lives, and looks with tenderness into their hearts.
HOWARD FAST is twenty-three. Most of his life has been divided between his native New York City and upstate Greene County with its Blackhead Mountains. He stumbled through public school, "hating it intensely," had to be argued into attending high school, and then rebelled openly when the subject of college arose. The Navy said "no" because of his extreme youth, so he ran away to Florida. His family finally got him back and he was sent to work lumbering in the Blackheads. Fast then took up drawing and was admitted to the National Academy, where he studied for a year and a half. When family funds ran out, he decided to return to New York and make money by writing. He was then seventeen. In addition to writing popular fiction with an almost awesome fecundity, he was employed in the Public Library and later as a shipping clerk. With pressing financial needs thus satisfied, he was able to turn to more serious work, of which Place in the City is his first full-length achievement.