THE BURNT ONES by Patrick White


Email this review


According to the publishers, the title is a Greek expression that means ""the poor unfortunates!"" The central characters in these 9 short stories and tow novellas are ""burnt"" by the varieties of experience involving love. Willy Wagtails by Moonlight is a humorous horror story of adultery -- a birdwatching husband catches the rare song of the Willy Wagtail on a tape recorder which also faithfully records his misconduct. Miss Slattery and er Demon Lover shows the gradual reversal of roles in a love affair as Miss Slattery gains the upper hand in her joust with a mad, bad Hungarian. Unfortunately, the power of the story is negated by the unhandiest attempt at dialogue in dialect since Joel Chandler Harris. The extremes of love are examined in The Letters and The Cheery Soul. In the first, a repressed, incestuous love flares out in a sort of Tennessee Williams grotesquerie. In the second, there is a classic case study of loveless old maid whose little kindnesses are inflicted rather than rendered and result in emotional mayhem. All the stories are set in either Australia or Greece. The Australian settings are vivid evocations of classes and conditions, while those set in Greece are as stagily somber as a ruin too poor for Elgin. Mr. White is best known in this country for his 1957 novel, Voss. While this collection is uneven in quality, it is consistently readable and the author remains a name to watch for.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1964
Publisher: Viking