THE BLACKING FACTORY & PENNSYLVANIA GOTHIC by Wilfrid Sheed
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THE BLACKING FACTORY & PENNSYLVANIA GOTHIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Except for the resident talent so manifest on every page, this long short story and short novel have more in common with each other than with Sheed's earlier books (Office Politics, etc.). Both deal with cauterizing experiences in youth and the crippling effects of environment--change, isolation, dislocation are unseen antagonists. In Pennsylvania Gothic, a deadspot off the Main Line (""You never notice the actual moment of falling asleep, a person or a town, do you?""), young Charlie Trimble is drawn to the glancing brightness of silver knives and only through the obdurate spirit of an old woman next door defeats his death-directed inheritance. . . . Dickens spent six months or longer in a blacking factory when summarily removed from school; James Bannister, rudely transplanted from the U.S. to mediocre Sopworth in England where he is socially and intellectually diminished, escapes via false, phantom memories of his golden days at home (motherless, friendless, only a gross if affluent father) and he grows up to be a Jeremiah of the Far Right, sponsoring his illusory dream of America the Beautiful That Was over the airways. . . . Both deal with emotional sea change set against backgrounds which, are remarkably precise: the stories, while essentially subtle, are identifiable and involving and should speak to anyone who was ever young. That takes care of a great many people.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux