AMONG THE CINDERS by Maurice Shadbolt


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This elusive coming-of-age novel is set in New Zealand and forwarded with a definition: ""CINDER: hard, crumbly substance which remains after the inflammable quality of coal, coke, wood has been destroyed by burning but when they have not been reduced to ashes."" The cinders of Mr. Shadbolt's book are presumably teenage Nick Flanders and his grandfather Old Hubert who set out together to explore New Zealand's gum country, to axe down mammoth trees, and to live by wile and stamina in the bush. Nick has been burned by the death of a friend for which he holds himself responsible. Old Hubert has been meaning to return to dig for gum and gold since his own young manhood. Just how the odyssey relates to the particular problems of the characters, what indeed their particular problems are, how or if they're resolved -- these things are never made quite clear. There are some fine insights into the relationship between use or exploitation of one human being by another and love. There is a clever twist toward the end when Nick Flinders, the narrator, meets Maurice Shadbolt, the writer, and convinces him to tell his story, this story, which never quite comes off.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1965
Publisher: Atheneum