Dere Mable is what it’s fictional narrator would probably call an E. Pistol Larry novel.
The American army is attempting to turn Bill Smith into a clog in its fighting machine in France.
Bill had mastered the clog part before he reached training camp.
Dere Mable: Letters of a Rookie by Edward Streeter
G. William Breck. illus. 1918 bestseller #4. Project Gutenberg ebook #13993.
My grade C.
Turning Bill into a soldier makes defeating the Germany army look like child’s play.
Bill writes Mable chatty letters about life in the Army where “bed and board mean the same thing” and recruits are told to “walk a post but their aint no post.”
Bill tells Mable he’s taking French lessons at the YMCA so he can talk to girls when he gets to France, but when Bill hears Mable has been spending a lot of time with someone named Broggins, he is furious.
Dere Mable has little plot and virtually no character development. G. William Breck’s droll illustrations bring the story to life and make it long enough to be called a book.
Though he makes Bill a comic figure, Edward Streeter’s tone is gentle. He doesn’t mock Bill for lack of education, but for his smug self-delusion.
Streeter’s respect for the American conscript is what makes Dere Mable a more durable work than Mac Hyman’s No Time for Sergeants 36 years later.
© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni