BODKIN by Barton Midwood


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Some of the assumptions and implications of this black black and white parable are more accessible than what is going on in this ""treatment center"" for disturbed boys, almost all Negro, somewhere in New England. There Bodkin is one of the five night watchmen, barely distinguishable: Bodkin reads and is known as the bookish Jew; The Weasel is too conscientious; Ashe prays; Trembley tipples; and Boober weeps. Doberman, the director, who has tried to maintain order without brutality now claims there is a conspiracy to kill him; one child is found dead, and the autopsy contends that he ""died of his own stink"" later contradicted (or is it?) by Doberman's confession; Nod, another youngster, tries to run away, then defies Doberman and ultimately the police... Protest and futility darken every page in this world of ""welfare which was no welfare, a judge who was no judge, and this place which is no place at all""--a topographical anonymity which extends to everything in this sanctuary which is no sanctuary for misfits and derelicts, old and young. The book, while it attracts a certain curiosity, alienates almost to the same degree. The reader will not weep with Boober--he will just wince.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1967
Publisher: Random House