New York: The Vanguard Press, 1935. First edition. Hardcover. 286pp. Duodecimo [19 cm] Bright cloth over boards with the title and a decorative border stamped in black ink on the backstrip. Publisher's black topstain. The covers are just a tiny hair warped, and the fore-edge of the text block is foxed. In a dust jacket, which is backed with large pieces of brown paper tape, and which is faded at the spine and folds (spine title still bold). Very good / good. Item #62308
A slightly somber look at the goings-on behind-the-scenes at beauty contests.
Held's third novel, and one of his novels which, according to Shelley Armitage in "John Held, Jr., Illustrator of the Jazz Age" dissects "the woman" in American society. The novel opens with a quote from "Alice through the Looking Glass."
Armitage writes on p. 114, "... the main character, a small town girl from Duchesne, Idaho, makes her way from a part-time job in her aunt's millinery shop to the title of Miss Universe in Galveston, Texas. But, as is the case in Alice through the Looking Glass, her achievements require her to 'run twice as fast.' The overall effect is that of rear projection: the predominant irony in the novel makes her life real in quite the opposite way... Held suggests that making it to the top of the heap- even as a beauty queen- is lucky but hauntingly empty in the end. The realized dream damns the dreamer, short-circuits the vitality and creativity of the struggle for the goal. The real truth of such a life is the inner knowledge generated by the experienced action, not the resulting accomplishment or completed idea... Moreover, her experience provides an insightful commentary on the commercial world's use of the hopes and dreams of such women and of female beauty in general."