Scottish professor Trevor Grierson is giving a series of guest-lectures in Canberra, Australia--when he gets a phone-call from one Malcolm Douglas, an ex-wastrel who has news of Grierson's long-estranged brother Norman: according to the murkily motivated Douglas, Norman is probably dead, last heard of in a Sydney jail after years of low-life behavior. Trevor, shaken, immediately sets off for Sydney, where he can find no record of Norman's death or serious criminal activity; the search leads Trevor (an ivory-tower caricature of outsize naivete) into grimy situations that shock, disorient, and flummox him. (""Did he have to come to a new place to see the distorted figures of the poor and the handicapped? . . . The world in which he himself lived was a rich, privileged world. . . he had never considered that other world which like a dark, invisible star accompanied the golden, glowing one till by its gravity it pulled one into it."") After returning to Sydney, he broods about his longtime guilt over Norman--his youthful jealousies of the less-bright brother's strength and popularity, his stealing-away of Norman's fiancÃ‰e. And at last Trevor does find Norman, who's living a perfectly nice life with a devoted wife: ""Everything had come full circle, his brother was safe. . . . And yet why should he feel sorrow?"" He feels sorrow, it seems, because his own marriage has been headed for the rocks--so he now returns to Scotland, determined to start anew with his wife. A drab, preachy little novella--without the balancing charm and color of A Field Full of Folk (1982).
Pub Date: June 1, 1983
Page Count: -
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles