THE SMALL MINE by Menna Gallie


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The events in Miss Gallie's small novel are of singular insignificance. Joe Jenkins, a Welsh boy, goes down into a mine alone on a Sunday afternoon to help a friend finish his weekly work allocation. Joe is killed as the result of the puny, impotent gesture of a disgruntled, bitter man. One can say about Joe Jenkins only that he was -- he loved, he used, he was loved, he died absurdly. So goes what constitutes the threadbare plot of The Small Mine; the elusive Miss Gallie defies definition by means of the usual criteria. She is a writer of extraordinary sensitivity, warmth, humour and compassion. In her description of Joe's mother -- ""a dark, darting little woman, still trim and tight in the figure, bouncing with energy and long since out of patience and passion for her slow, kindly, insensitive husband"" -- she implies the entirety of a familial situation by means of two skeletal, kinetic silhouettes. She is a masterful poet of the sensuous universals: ""rough towels, clean clothes, humanity restored, the depravity of darkness put away, in the locker till tomorrow and tomorrow""...The stuff of Menna Gallie's novel would have fared far better in a short story or a long poem.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1962
Publisher: Harper & Row