THE IKON by Clayton Barbeau


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Honest intentions and serious moral preoccupations do not necessarily make a good novel, and The Ikon, for all its heavy flavoring of the Korean War and the persistent introspection of its hero only very rarely comes to life. Its theme deals with a young man awakening to religious conviction through the agony of battle and the death of one of his comrades, but much of it is familiar-or derivative (i.e. from the spurts of Hollywood ""realism"" and the ""inspirational"" tenor of the hero's quest). This is just another sensitive young man searching for values by which to live, and emerging not with a striking individuality but with that vague aura of a manhood redeemed. The most poignant moments and insights concern the minor characters who cross his path: a battle-scarred veteran commiting suicide; an old-style officer decrying the coddled new army; the hero's friend who passes on to him the ikon of Jesus and Mary when he knows that he will soon die and wants to bring God's love to his doubting friend. As it turns out, it is just this gift which saves the hero's life and brings him his moment of truth... Barbeau writes with sincerity and an ethical validity, but neither as religious existentialism nor as a commentary on combat is this wholly successful.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1961
Publisher: Coward-McCann