A HOUSE IN ORDER by Nigel Dennis


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Nigel Dennis wrote the satiric discussion piece, Cards of Identity (1955) as well as an excellent study, not surprisingly of Swift (1964). This civilized conundrum is about a nameless man captured in a timeless war in an anonymous country who manages to survive in a greenhouse, where he is most protected as well as most exposed. In fact all of it extends from one paradox to another, and its supreme example is perhaps its inadvertent antihero. An antiseptic little man, a cartographer by profession, a horticulturist by avocation, he spends a first night in an abandoned, mucky greenhouse and is very happy to be permitted to stay on there, tending his 283 plants, among them a rare specimen, a houseleak. However he lives in the fear that every day will be his last; there are constant inspections and interrogations; not one to throw stones at any time, still his life under glass is a parlous one--while he began ""as a personal joke..."" he becomes ""a general nuisance."" When last seen, he is puttering about happily in another potting shed at home, and the story ends with an existential quip--""It's what you allow to happen that counts too."" ....Even if one is not always sure down just what garden path Mr. Dennis is leading you, his House in Order is a quizzical pleasure: he's an admirable ironist, a man of few words, many meanings.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1966
Publisher: Vanguard