Sunday, May 10, 2020

James S. Wallerstein

James S. Wallerstein (b. New York City, 25 September 1910; d. Mount Kisco, NY, 28 June 1990)

James Scheuer Wallerstein was the son of  Max Wallerstein (1874-1937) and his wife, Helen (b. 1886; last traced to the early 1950s), nee Scheuer. Max Wallerstein and his brother Leo (c. 1882-1958) were from a Jewish family in Bavaria. Max studied chemistry at the University of Munich, with his Ph.D. thesis being "A Study in the Transformation of Barley Fat during Germination." By 1895 Max had emigrated to the United States and he became involved in the brewing industry. In 1902 Max and his brother Leo founded the Wallerstein Laboratories in New York, providing consultation services to the brewing industry. After a visit to England, Max published in 1907 a long study of "Notes on English Brewing" in volume 3 of the Transactions of the American Brewing Institute. Max married Helen in Tarrytown, New York, on 24 June 1909.  Besides their son James, they had a daughter Elizabeth, four years younger than James.

James S. Wallerstein attended Harvard University (A.B. Honors, 1932, with thesis "Freedom and the Self"), and Columbia University (A.M., 1938, thesis "The Development of Felix Adler's Thought in Relation to Economic Issues"). He also received a Ph.D.  He joined the Sarah S. Ollesheimer Fund, a college scholarship foundation named after his mother's aunt, in the early 1940s, and remained there until his death. He also worked as a brewmaster at the Wallerstein Laboratories in the 1940s, until the firm was sold in the 1950s. He married and raised two sons.

Wallerstein also wrote children's plays and books for young adults. It appears that most of these came out from subsidy or vanity publishers.  His first book was the novel The Demon's Mirror (New York: Harbinger House, [January] 1951). The second edition from Bellamy Press is undated, thereby causing confusion bibliographically, but according to an advertisement in Publishers' Weekly for 19 May 1951, it was published just four months after the first edition. (Many copies of the book were apparently distributed by various foundations with which Wallerstein was associated.) The Demon's Mirror is Wallerstein's primary contribution to the literature of the fantastic. The blurb on the rear of the dust-wrapper notes that the novel is condensed from an original of 1800 pages, which took Wallerstein more than thirteen years to write. The prelude opens in the ancient past with the demon Saurakin coming to the King's court and presenting a magic mirror, which makes real the thought of the person standing before it. Thus the "Horror" in the King's mind becomes real.  The scene then shifts to modern times and quickly the book becomes sprawling, attempting too many things while succeeding in none of them. The result is an eccentric and wobbly book that was clearly something its author did not know how to handle. It is not, however, without interest, but it remains fairly unsatisfying as a work of literature. 

Wallerstein's plays include The Cactus Wildcat: A One-Act Rip-Roaring Western Comedy for Children (1954), which was reprinted in Adventure: Five Plays for Youth (1945). Another collection was Over the Hills: Four Plays for Youth (1959). 

The rest of his novels were illustrated, and they include Tommy and Julie (1952), illustrated by Chester Goodwin; The Trail of Danger (1971), illustrated by Richard Giordano; and the final two, The Outer Darkness (1976) and No Traveller Returns (1987), both illustrated by Frederick J. Mackie, Jr.
The Outer Darkness is blurbed as "the Cain and Abel story in modern America. But with an unexpected ending. A tale of romance, adventure and Gothic mystery."

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