THE HAWK ALONE by Jack Bennett


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Jack Bennett's Jamie and Mister Fisherman seem part of a steady progression in the examination of fate, justice and South African society from this fine novelist. The first was about a young boy stubbornly acting out an adult revenge role. The second maroons an old Negro and a spoiled adolescent boy in a becalmed boat and watches while circumstance removes every material thing from the man who has so little. In The Hawk Alone, old Gord moves toward his death. He is at barely restrained violent odds with everything in his world. Having worked hard but always alone, he is not eligible for employees' benefits. Having hunted well (in the Hemingway sense) he finds himself in a South Africa where even the wild life has changed and especially the attitudes toward sportsmanship in hunting. Having lived decently, he is nevertheless unable to find any comfort in the fundamental religion that sustains his much younger wife. Everywhere he turns in this short novel he sees changes and muses (in flashback) about the contrast to his youth. He is bitterly aware of a decadent softness in the people he deals with. The final scenes involving his last Job, as a guide to a party of rich young Afrikaaners, is a tightly controlled rendition of the impossible pressure produced in Gord by the amoral, unmanly behavior of a heartless group of the new breed. This does not have the young adult appeal which was obvious in the previous titles. It is a mature theme for adult readers, with particular appeal for men.

Publisher: Little, Brown