Prose from the playwright
The story has an atmosphere like something out of an Ashcan School painting by John Sloan or George Bellows. The reader gets a sense of life drawn in rich blacks and muddy browns, accompanied by the smell of stale beer and cigarettes and the sounds of the wharf. In terms of literary style, it resembles the urban naturalism of Frank Norris, but with the more modern psychological acumen of a Joseph Conrad. The friendship of Art and Jimmy rings true, in both its brotherly camaraderie and its petty jealousies and resentments. “Tomorrow” may be a depressing tale, but it’s a genuinely moving one. The reader can’t help but feel for Jimmy and identify with his plight.
Although not a theatre enthusiast, I’ve always enjoyed reading O’Neill’s plays. To me, they’re like powerful realist novels that just happen to be written in the form of stage directions and dialogue. “Tomorrow” gives an inkling of what O’Neill could have done with a novel. This story reveals him to be such an accomplished prose stylist, it makes one wish he would’ve published more stories.
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