KEY TO THE DOOR by Alan Sillitoe


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When this novel appeared in England, there was some speculation that it may have been written before, although published later, than Alan Sillitoe's best known Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, which some critics have tagged as the outstanding proletariat novel since the '30's. In any case there are several points of recognition if not closer resemblance: between Brian Seaton here and Arthur Seaton, q.v. and in many of the scenes of this bone-poor world. It is, as raw material goes, a rich quarry of experience, but there is also a great deal of slag. It is too bad that a writer of such powerful talent has not applied the discipline displayed in what has been considered his finest book- The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner It all has a graphic realism and a tremendous vitality; the scenes of life with young Brian at home, in school, of the ""little bogger... allus reading""-stolen books; later in the pubs, on the job in a cardboard factory and with Pauline whom he is forced to marry. In the second half Brian is sent to Malaya and the insets of the war there alternate with earlier incidents back home; it is in the grime of the Nottingham working class world that he first picked up some ideas of communism and this is the cause claimed, later proved on a patrol in Malaya when he finds he cannot kill a Chinese bandit because he ""was a comrade... a man"". This commitment, however glib or temporary, does revoke ""the desolate, companionless void of protest"" which is so much a part of the philosophy of this class as voiced by the generation of writers growing up in postwar England. But to reach it, in spite of the many scenes of rough humor and animal vigor, there is the swill of words- and the bleddy, bleddy dialect which may well be a deterrent.

Publisher: Knopf