THE SHAPES OF SLEEP by J. B. Priestley


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An uneven writer is our Mr. Priestley; one scarcely knows what to expect. This time as in last year's Saturn Over the Water (bulletin p. 469-'61) he has turned to suspense and an international spy story, but has fallen down in two aspects that made Saturn engaging reading. He never in this new book sets his scene so that the reader becomes absorbed in atmosphere and mood. Nor- on the story line- does he hold to a central thread that, intricate as the windings may prove, goes from Point A to Point B. This time he substitutes motion for action. His newspaperman, with a keen scent for the unusual, jumps from London to the Continent, from town to town and back again in Germany; but somehow he seems to be chasing his own tall, and even the near misses of danger peter out. Finally, there is a touch- just a touch- of the element of mysticism, which characterized his The Other Place back in 1955 (Harper). And this too somehow dissipates the effect. And the injection of some random sex and a romance in which one cannot feel too involved does not add to the sense of unity demanded.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday