29 JUNE 1912, Page 38

When God Laughs, and Other Stories. By Jack London. (Mills

and Boon. 6s.)--Mr. Jack London's new volume contains a collection of short stories to which the epithet "strong" may fitly be applied. In fact, it would hardly be too much to describe many of the sketches as brutal in their realism and cruelty. The most horrible of all is the story entitled "The Apostate," which gives a piteous picture of a child labourer whose untimely work stunted both his body and his mind till the eternal rest became to him an immediate and imperative necessity. There is only one story over which the oppressed reader will heave a sigh of relief on finding that the author con- cedes for once that life is not, after all, altogether without its humours. To this Mr. London gives the appropriate name of "A Nose for the King," and it is a decidedly ingenious piece of work. The book is full of interest, but the critic feels it almost a duty to apply to the book the warning conveyed by John Marston in the Prologue of "Antonio's Revenge" Therefore, we proclaim

If any spirit breathes withni this round. Uncapable of weighty passion

(As from his birth being hugged in the arms, ' And nuzzled 'twist the breasts of happiness), Who winks, and shuts his apprehension up From common sense of what men were, and are, Who mould not know -vluit men must be—let such Hurry amain from our black.visag'd shows. Wo shall affright their eyes."

Certainly none but those whose "breasts," to continue the quota- tion, "are nailed to the earth with grief," will be able to endure unmoved Mr. Jack London's poignant pictures.