California authors, like those elsewhere, sometimes based their novels on news stories. The idea was to fictionalize a famous event just enough to give it a larger and more profound meaning. That's what Myron Brinig tries to do in Anne Minton's Life. He retains only the essence of the event, changing the protagonist from a man to a woman, switching the setting from New York to Los Angeles, and inventing all the ancillary characters. Brinig, incidentally, published some twenty books between 1929 and 1958. Only two are primarily set in California. A fictional account of his time in New Mexico, The Taos Truth Game, was published in 2006.
Anne Minton's Life by Myron Brinig. Farrar and Rinehart (1939), 279 pp.
Anne Minton, a twentyish woman with troubled eyes, steps onto a window ledge of a tall apartment building in Los Angeles. A crowd gathers and speculates about her motives and her fate. As it becomes clear that she might jump at any moment, several people -- a showgirl and her aspiring writer boyfriend, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, a stylish but aging and penniless actress, the owner of an oil company, the pregnant wife on an unemployed printer -- begin to reconsider the course of their own lives.
This novel, based on a true story, invites readers also to undergo self-examination. If you were on the ledge, it asks, how easy would it be to step off? The author maintains the suspense of the situation but does not quite succeed in conveying its emotional impact. He portrays the young woman in depth and with compassion. The other characters, those with whom readers might potentially identify, seem shallow in comparison. Brinig nevertheless takes these people and their problems seriously. He uses one of them, the refugee, to draw an analogy between the woman poised to kill herself and Europe about to begin a hideous war. Brinig's writing style is clean and unpretentious. All in all, the book provides an interesting and perhaps thought-provoking read.