Kirkus Star


Email this review


This newest addition to the slender output of one of the few first-rate novelists of our time embellishes an already fine literary reputation though it lacks the sting of her previous work. Clock Without Hands is written in the author's usual fashion - with great narrative skill and precise characterization, employing a hero who serves both as witness and participant to the main events of the plot. In this case, J. T. Malone, a dogged and ordinary pharmacist, learns that he is dying of leukemia. His internal struggle towards salvation is counterpointed against that of the town's leading family, whose sole survivors are a Judge and his grandson. The destiny of all three is linked with Sherman Pew, a Negro adolescent with blue eyes, orphaned at birth, who is the embodiment of their guilt. The Judge must cope with the mystery of his son's suicide years before; the grandson searches for his identity in his father's death; the Negro pursues his own reality in the form of his undisclosed parentage. Malone, alone, must justify all of life. The lines weave, then merge, into one moment when each must respond to the Negro's move-into a white neighborhood, involving them in the moral responsibility for his life or death when a citizen's committee acts to bomb him. The author has resolved her plot in a more affirmative tone than in her previous stories. Malone, dying, personifies the common bond in mankind that would erase the aloneness. He finds the unifying force- man suffering, no longer the great equalizer in the face of death. Alone, he relates to both life and death.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1961
ISBN: 0395929733
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin