FOUR DAYS by John Buell


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The fear and desperation of a twelve year old boy caught in the midst of sin and evil which he only vaguely understands and frantically tries to ignore is the engrossing theme of John Buell's strange novel Four Days which takes place between Saturday and Tuesday of a hot week in June. The kid, as he is called, lives with his only relative, an older brother Milt, in rented rooms over a pool hall. Aware of Milt's sexual aberrations, his petty crimes, his abnormal way of life -- he still pushes to the back of his mind the ""half formed insights"" which might permit him to recognize the brother whom he idolizes for what he really is. Consequently he goes along with Milt's plan to have him participate in a bank robbery which results in the death of his brother and three members of the gang. Horrified, the kid realizes ""from a depth somewhere in his soul what it all meant, but feeling even more deeply the need to prevent his own being from slipping away like water"" he blindly returns to their rooms; packs the stolen money in a suitcase as Milt had told him to do; and leaves by bus for a small northern town where he was supposed to have met Milt for a camping vacation. The suspicions of the hotel clerk, the appearance of the criminals searching for the money, the boy's friendship with a homosexual bring the book to a terrible and violent climax. The uncertain influence of the kid's Catholic training form a thread of an underlying theme which the author wants to make part of the story. John Buell's last novel The was well received critically. This one will have mixed reactions. What the author intends to convey is never made completely clear.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1962
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy