THIS SUMMER'S DOLPHIN by Maurice Shadbolt


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At a seedy resort on a small island off the coast of New Zealand a kittenishly playful dolphin takes to arriving regularly at a swimmers' cove and very quickly exerts a near-magic hold on the old, the young, the sick and the hopeless who arrive in ever-increasing numbers for a glimpse at, or a chance to touch, the smiling, fish-formed beast. Myth-like transformations begin to take place inside the characters Mr. Shadbolt sketches so clearly and briefly--drawing on his demonstrated skills in the short story form (The New Zealanders and Summer Fires and Winter Country) to keep several individual stories going at once yet related through the visiting dolphin. There's an aging bisexual, an adulterous couple, a teenage boy who had shot his twin sister (was it an accident?), an untutored girl given to metaphysical speculation, a reclusive professor recovering from a breakdown and the mild to mad regulars of the community. The author pans in and away, employing a camera speed in characterizations through gesture and dialogue, as the outwardly calm, inwardly chaotic people are propelled to major and minor decisions about themselves through their concern and contact with the dolphin. His play becomes the prey of mass-media communications and a symbol for an influx of fragmented flower children. A short novel of more lasting effectiveness.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1969
Publisher: Atheneum