Email this review


An unauthorized expedition into the interior- behind the tropical port of Siboul- to secure a live specimen of a paradise bird, offers an implacable drama, not only of worlds in collision, but of personal revelation- and salvation. A bitter commentary, uncomfortably alive with the small, devastating details of man's failure which lead to the larger determination of his fate, this is focussed on three people. Murry Hayden, an ornithologist, a spiritually emasculated figure who has hidden all his inadequacies, in his dull written records and research; Beryl, his wife, who has cultivated plainness and primness after an unfortunate experience as a girl, and found the perfect answer to her rejection of sex in Murry, who is only a man occasionally; and Smitty, the Patrol Officer on their expedition, whose impotence is really physical- after a brutal experience with the natives in the hills. For Murry, the forbidden search for the specimen will be the one chance to offset a meaningless life and lifework; for Beryl, the attraction to Smitty admits a natural impulse she had never experienced; for Smitty, the return to the jungle is an opportunity to override his fear and to prove he is still a man- ever if maimed. And if the expedition is to end in death, it offers its moment of redemption.... Otway writes well and the heavy, vitiating inactivity of the port colony, the more threatening, primitive forces which lie beyond it contribute to an effective drama.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1955
Publisher: Harper