YOUNG ART AND OLD HECTOR by Neil Gunn

YOUNG ART AND OLD HECTOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The fifth posthumous US publication for Scottish novelist Gunn (1891-1973) is a charmingly low-key turn-of-the century coming-of-age story. Eight-year-old Art Macrae--youngest son of a family that includes his fisherman father and brothers Duncan and Donul and older sisters Morag, Janet, and Neonain--and 80-ish Hector Macdonald are best friends: Old Hector tells Art fairy tales, listens to his complaints about his new baby brother Henry James, and accompanies him on quiet adventures. In a series of episodes reminiscent of Faulkner's The Unvanquished, Art runs messages between Morag and Shepherd Tom, feels pangs when Henry James is taken ill (after Art has wished that he would go away), stumbles on a still in the care of a circle that includes Donul and Old Hector, watches as Old Hector bests the officers sent out to find it, and finally comes to terms with Duncan's marriage and Donul's departure as he's sent to a farmer in the great world beyond. Though Gunn's characters can be a little monotonously quaint, they share with their landscape a fairy-tale magic, and the writing, shorn of the metaphysical excesses of The Key of the Chest (1988) and The Other Landscape (1990), is as refreshing as a sip of spring water. Slight, old-fashioned, and utterly captivating.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8027-1177-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991




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