“Lost Books” is a weekly series highlighting forgotten books through the prism of Tablet Magazine’s and Nextbook.org’s archives. So blow the dust off the cover, and begin!
Ben Hecht might be best remembered as the screenwriter behind classics like Gone With The Wind and Wuthering Heights, but to Neal Pollack, Hecht will always be the hack from Chicago. In 2006, Neal Pollack described Hecht as “a newspaperman in an age when that profession had literary possibilities, and a short-story writer when that profession had commercial ones.” Most important, however, Hecht had an audience—in 1943 he published a lengthy plea on behalf of the Jews of Europe (his later book, Perfidy, would reveal that Jewish Labor Zionists had collaborated with the Nazis).
His columns from the Chicago Daily News were collected in 1001 Afternoons, which, Pollack argues, “remains one of the grail books of any Chicago reporter with literary aspirations.” Of one particular story, “The Man Hunt,” Pollack writes:
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about “The Man Hunt” is that it appeared in a daily newspaper, which we long ago ceased to think of as a house of literary worth. But the Chicago newspapers of the 1920s represented one of those rare intersections of high and low culture, so rare that people (mostly writers, mostly Chicagoans) are still longing for its return. Only newspaper work could have supplied Hecht’s pallette with such limitless color. Abandoned wives, henpecked husbands, aging showgirls, tavern owners, aldermen, suicidal millionaires: Archetypes sprung from his pen.
Plus Israel takes credit for further sanctions, and more in the news
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.