Ben Hecht’s 1001 afternoons

  Many years after Ben Hecht left, Chicago still has his legend. I had read “1001 afternoons in Chicago” before graduating from junior high school. When I was in high school, I searched for his other works in second-hand bookstores: “Eric Donne”, “Humpty Dumpty”, “Monsters” and “Broken Neck”. “The Earl of Brugada.” I haven’t read these books for more than 20 years, but I still remember the stories, characters, and even the weird expressions in the books-“a row of grassy roofs across the sky”, “greedy half-dead little things” .
  This fancy, funny, and enthusiastic journalist has always been with me. He has been familiar with the works of Ray de
  Gourmont and Arthur Maichin, and he has also devoted himself to the study of James Hunek’s “The Veil” and HL Mencken’s “Prejudice Collection”. The Great Depression swept everything. Almost all the important figures in the “Chicago Literary Renaissance” movement went to New York and Hollywood, but my friends and I have read their works. We linger on Rush Street and Welsh Street under the elevated highway, and we admire those who have known Dreiser, Anderson, Hecht or Sandberg or have experienced the era of “Little Review”. Maybe we are completely wrong, but they do stimulate us to imagine a golden age full of banquets, debates, public reading, feuds, and grand occasions.
  The most amazing thing is that people should have thought of writing down and beautifying everything we saw with our own eyes, such as the gloomy Halstead Street, the calm situation in the neighboring neighborhoods, and what the immigrants have said should all become Art material. Those things that make us confused or depressed should be transformed into other things. Today’s chains may be tomorrow’s crowns.
  When reading Ben Hecht’s autobiography, “Son of the Century,” I was still impressed by the light that belongs to him as an urban poet. I remember that he was once called the “Harlequin of the Peace Ladder”, “Chicago’s In “1001 Afternoon”, he is also a skeptical and sentimental young man in the local news editorial department. He is first-rate eloquent, unpretentious, romantic and sharp. He is not the kind of well-informed person, and he does not have too many psychologists or morals. Shelves for home. In addition, he was full of what he described as “moth-like energy”, which made him “continuously fluttering around life, as if they were shining street lamps.” This kind of eagerness is the reason why young readers like him. In his writing about Chicago, he once again deeply moved me.
  Hecht’s writings do not contain the Orientalism of O. Henry, or the description of “Baghdad on the subway”, but his inheritance of Henry was stylistic at the beginning. “He saw people being shot through, being run over by cars, being hanged, being burned alive, being poisoned by drugs, being strangled by years.” He was a young reporter who wrote this, but there is no story about O. Henry. These contents.
  The aura of Hecht’s youth has disappeared from him, and he is not as funny as he used to be. But when he wrote about his family, his work experience in the newspaper and some of his old friends, he undoubtedly became extremely funny and even sympathetic. Although he also acted more like an authentic thinker, his talent as a story king is the most prominent part. His research on his uncles and aunts (obviously he has no cousins ​​to communicate with) is the best part of his wonderful autobiography; in all his character profiles, these parts are incomparably the best. Warm, most natural, and richest.
  Hundreds of people appear in this biography: writers, politicians, actors and other celebrities. There are Mencken and two Roosevelt, Fanny Bryce, the Max Brothers, John Barrymore, Charles MacArthur, and other people who may not be so prominent.
  Hecht didn’t particularly care about his title. He is undoubtedly the “son of the century” and has personally experienced the deepest crises of this century. I can’t believe that he once saw the heroic socialist Karl Liebknecht take off his clothes and get into the bed of William II to celebrate the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty. I have a feeling that his stance towards Germany that he later showed in the book “Guide to the Lost” affected his memories of Germany after the First World War. I can often feel that he has worked so hard to distribute his beautiful words to those club celebrities, prominent newspaper columnists, and the glitzy Hollywood world, and he is actually paying off his old debts. But his amazingly clear and vivid memory is really admirable. He is a person who has always dealt with and lived among others, not the kind of person who, for example, is dragged by his career to see different worlds.
  I am not saying that he has always been out of the picture. It is now widely believed that he once launched a movement to support Irgan’s underground Zionism. I am inclined to accept his explanation for this. He did not do this out of selfish motives. In the face of the Jews who were massacred by the Nazis, the governments of those major powers chose not to intervene; the silence of the Jews in the United States or the United Kingdom on this was a completely intolerable crime in his view. He criticized Jewish leaders and non-Jewish politicians extremely sharply, and these accusations are not groundless.
  It may be abrupt to say that, but the 20th-century radical qualities of him now seem a bit outdated. When he denounced Hollywood and attacked members of Congress, his position was very similar to Mencken: “In fact, there is no art there, only entertainment. Our talent, like our waterfall, is disciplined to be submissive, let The life of the public is just a little more comfortable. Artists who are deviant or anti-public, like anti-public public transportation companies, no longer exist.”
  Hecht is a difficult person to characterize. In some moments, he looked like that unscrupulous and defiant young newspaper reporter, while in other moments, he looked like an exaggerated Hollywood character, just as exaggerated and boring as his Waterloo movies. He is one of the main creators of the great comedy “20th Century”, but he also created “The Rose Flower”-I would rather swallow the glass ballast on the ground than watch that movie again. He is also not polite, but politeness may not necessarily turn into a good autobiography, and this autobiography is very wonderful. Even though he occasionally appears slick, he is also independent, direct and sincere. Compared with today’s soft little wild cats that record social reality, he is like an old-school lion roaring.