Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The fourth issue of POINTS was published in late fall of 1949 and was noted as Nº 4 Octobre-Novembre 1949.  The delay in publication as noted in POINTS 3 was due to the staff taking the month of August as vacation and also to extend the time allowed for submissions to the literary contest.


The panel of judges was chaired by Philippe Soupault who had emerged on the Paris artistic and literary scene in the 1920s when he launched the periodical, Littérature, together with writers Andre Breton and Louis Aragon in Paris in 1919. 

James Joyce and Philippe Soupault in Paris in the 1930s.    

The list of authors published in POINTS 4 contained several who would achieve some mark of literary distinction during their subsequent careers, notable among them Herb Gold with, perhaps, his first published work of fiction that split the prize with E. Bennett Metcalfe who would later gain prominence with his association with the Greenpeace organization.

Jean Dutourd’s first work, Le Complexe de César, appeared in 1946 and received the prix Stendahl. Roy Bongartz would later write for The New Yorker and the travel section of the New York Times.  Bongartz also authored a play, The Applicant. Bernard Frechtman was a close friend of Jean Genet and translated many of his works into English.

Sindbad Vail – Notes by the Editor
Philippe Soupault – Judge Not
E. Bennett Metcalfe – It's Easy to Make Friends
Jean-Marie Creuzeau La trahison de Monsieur Jauve
Herb Gold And Sat Down Beside Her
Jean Dutourd Un croque-mort de génie
Bernard Frechtman The Bedfellow
Clarence Alva Powell – Circle. The Club
Jack R. GussLe chat est sous les étoiles
Jean-Jacques Kim L'Autre
Roy Bongartz – Vit ! Vit ! Szabadsag (A Trip To Budapest)
Jacques Prevel Poémes
Alain Marchal Poémes
Roland Febvay Le Suiveur
Bernard Brugerolles – L'Etrangére
Marie-Claude Meunier – La Couturiére
Chesley Saroyan The Rosy Crucifixion : A Review
Gaston Gaoua Les métamorphoses de Sébastien Velpuche
Ernest Lesavan – Le Concours. Notes Et Commontaires


This issue of POINTS contains only two short stories in
the English language. This is a radical change from the usual
policy of the magazine and it will not be perpetuated in following
numbers. Both short stories, "It's Easy to Make Friends" by
E. Bennet Metcalfe, and "And Sat Down Beside Her" by Herb
Gold, have won the prize for the short story Contest.

The editor wishes to thank Trevor Bates, Muriel Reed,
Philippe Soupault, T. J. Tees and Jacqueline Ventadour for
consenting to be on the jury. It was very difficult to find five
intelligent  jurors willing to read 243 short stories. Fortunately
it was done by roping in the editor's wife and thanks to Mr.
Soupault's charming persuasion. Let it be added that Mr. Soupault
is owed a tremendous debt of thanks from the editor of POINTS
for not only acting as chairman and chief mentor of the jury but
also for writing "Judge Not".                             

It might interest our readers to know how the contest
Stories were graded. It was decided to grade all stories on the
0 to 10 basis. All stories had to aggregate at least 25 to enter the
finals. The editor had no say whatsoever until this stage. There
was only one 8 out of the lot, but there were plenty of sixes and
sevens (the editor can't agree with Mr. Soupault that 20% of
the short stories deserve publication : perhaps half that number
do). It was decided to publish only two short stories in this
number. Finally non "contest" short stories were filed away
for future use. The two winning short stories must stand alone,
the line being so fine that comparison might prove derogatory.
The jury frankly could not decide between the two finally
selected. It was felt that both were of equal merit though
different. It is perhaps unfortunate that, in both stories, sex
rears its very hideous head. This is accidental. The two winners
just happened to be the best.

To sum up comment on the Contest, the editors of both
sections of POINTS are gratified and happy over the response.
This editor is particularly pleased with the quality of many
contributions. Six months ago, we were told there were no
good young English-language writers today. Now we know
there are. Anyway, many thanks to all the entrants, we were
truly grateful for their enthusiasm. Mr. Bisiaux discusses,
in another section of this magazine his impression of the French
side of the Contest.

Before this editor plunges on, it would perhaps be
illuminating to state our policy”, if it can be called that. Both
Bisiaux and the undersigned wanted to start in Paris a review for
young French and English-language writers. It would be a lie
to say that the two editors consult each other on the contents of
a number. POINTS actually is two magazines stuck together.
That must be fairly obvious. Each editor chooses his own
material and then shows it to the other. Unless there are violent
objections on either side, in it goes. The two editors are each
trying to see the other's point of view, but it is not easy. The
English section follows, more or less, the Anglo-American style
of little magazines and the French section goes along its own

In this issue, there is a rather long article by Roy Bongartz,
in the style of "Letters From..." which appear frequently in
magazines like the New Yorker. There is no getting away
from the fact that this generations of writers is "New Yorker"
conscious. Whether this is good or bad, this editor frankly does
not know, but does know that usually the New Yorker's"
slick perfection is not reached.

The opinions expressed by Mr. Bongartz in his "Vit ! Vit !
Szabadsag", are entirely his own. This editor, not having been
to the Budapest Festival, neither agrees nor disagrees with the
writer, but merely printed the story for its topical interest.

As promised in our last number, we are starting book
reviews.  Henry Miller's “Sexus", as reviewed by Chesley Saroyan,
will certainly interest many readers.



When my friend Sindbad Vail asked me to be a member of
this jury, I, who have never liked the idea of sitting in judgment
over either men or short stories, hesitated. Yet I was pleased.
For Sindbad Vail is a pioneer : well ahead of anyone else he has
discovered that in 1949 the novel is a dead if as yet unburied
genre (the fact that Sindbad himself disagrees is irrelevant).

Personally, if I am sincere, I am forced to say that, classi-
cally desert island bound, I would probably swap "War and
Peace" for Joyce's "Dubliners" and Tchekov's Tales ".

Of the 250 short stories submitted to POINTS for the con-
test, a relatively high proportion (around 20%) deserved
attention and publication. This proportion is remarkably high
when one considers the very low literary level of most novels
produced today. The fact that so many of the entries were
excellent seems to prove that POINTS' contest filled a need and
corresponded to an urge felt by young writers today.

But, to me, the most salient result of this contest is the fact
that it has enabled us to witness the rapid and characterized

evolution of a genre eminently suited to the rhythm, the gait,
the needs of the present day. The authors of the short stories
submitted nearly all tried to avoid the mistake of novelists who
think they are profound when they slow up the action to explain,
or attempt to explain, what is (literarily or analytically speaking)
inexplicable. Most of the contestants not only concentrated
action and anecdote but managed to eliminate from their style
all superfluous and irrelevant factors.

The high quality of many of the short stories submitted
made the jury's choice a difficult one (an indispensable stock
phrase, I believe. But true). After having eliminated a certain
number of entries which, because of their style or subject matter,
did not seem to us to be really short stories, we found that about
twenty stories, all very different from each other, clearly stood
out from the mass of entries. A few of these stories were more
finished, more successful and polished than the rest. For we
noticed that as a rule most authors have trouble finding an ending
suitable to the meaning and intention of their stories. More-
over many authors fail clearly to distinguish a short story from
a chapter of a novel, a piece of journalistic reporting or a story
written for a newspaper. The journalistic style, even at its best,
is not suited to and runs the risk of destroying the effect of a
work of imagination. The details, descriptions and suggestions
chosen by a short story writer are neccessarily less complete and
less definitely slanted than those used by a newspaper reporter.
Another trouble seems to be that many authors try to get around
difficulties by sneering at the very characters they have created
and by attempting, frequently in vain, to get a laugh or a smile
out of the reader.

A reading of the two short stories which the jury finally
selected after a long debate, will disclose that their authors have

succeeded in concentrating in a very few pages not merely a
relation of an actual or imaginary event but an atmosphere that
is to say, living characters, their world and their past.

To me, the most surprising and the most remarkable fact
about It's Easy to Make Friends is that its author has
succeeded in making an every day happening of an adventure
which might have been thought sordid. The ease with which
Metcalfe sets off his characters one against the other has
enabled him to avoid falling into easy imitation of "existen-
tialist" stories such as Sartre's "Nausea". So well constructed
is his story that the reader, no less than the characters themselves,
becomes a victim of fatality. Struggle is useless. The story
completely prevents you from taking sides, a fact which,
according to Tchekov, is the, first prerequisite of any successful

Metcalfe's story, moreover, is excellent in that its style and
manner are evident, that is, the reader cannot imagine any other
being used to set forth this particular adventure. It would have
been easy for Metcalfe to exaggerate, to sicken the reader, to
pile on the most repulsive details. Metcalfe's simplicity or
naiveté (in the best sense of the word, that which the Douanier
Rousseau has taught us to admire) enables him to force us to
accept his story as real.

Finally, I think that once you have read "It's Easy to Make
Friends", it will be impossible for you ever to forget the meeting
which Metcaife has described once and for all and in a way no
other writer ever has before him.

"And Sat Down Beside Her" also, is the story of a meeting
As we imagine the two characters created by Gold, we cannot
help but feel uneasy. These two beings represent different
worlds, that of childhood and that of disappointment and frus-
tration (or revenge). There is nothing mysterious about Gold's
story. As a matter of fact, I believe that he consciously sets
out to kill mystery. The reader feels that Gold, following
Stendhal's injunction, is holding up a mirror to our eyes. What
seems to me most admirable in "And Sat Down Beside Her"
is the fact that slowly, willfully and skillfully, Gold forces us to
stifle. The reader actually struggles and attempts to fight
against Gold as he draws the story to its most extreme limits.
Very few writers can boast of inflicting on their reader actual
physical suffering.

Perhaps the jury could have chosen, among the 250 entries
other stories than "And Sat Down Beside Her" and "It's Easy
to Make Friends". In the literary field, it's always difficult to
award prizes or give grades (would you give Homer a Poetry
Award or an A in Literature ?).

One thing is certain. Indubitably, the two stories chosen
are both excellent. Perhaps they are not better (I hope this
will cheer contestants who did not receive the prize for the very
best short story), but I am sure no reader of POINTS, not even
non-winning contestants can deny that And Sat Down Beside
Her" and "It's Easy to Make Friends" are both extremely good
and convincing stories.

And after all, the main wish of POINTS' Editor has always
been to publish good short stories, thus proving that his type of
magazine corresponded to a need felt by readers and writers.

Judge not lest you be judged.

PHILIPPE SOUPAULT (© The Estate of Philippe Soupault)

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