The Woods (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
The Woods, David Plante’s ninth novel and the third about Daniel Francoeur, chronicles his first year in college, his summer vacation, and the beginning of his second year at school. The first section, entitled “The Reflection,” shows Daniel engaged in activities common to most college students: going to a dance, drinking beer, studying, talking to his roommate. The second part, also called “The Woods,” takes Daniel to his parents’ lakeside home, where he has an affair with Lillian Cooper, the daughter of a neighboring family. The closing section, “The War,” brings one of Daniel’s brothers, a Marine stationed in Japan, home with a friend for a visit. Later, back at school, Daniel learns through Debbie, Lillian’s sister, that his brother’s friend has killed himself. As the novel ends, Daniel is walking through the snow on campus, wishing it were “possible to leave one’s self and walk away.”
This brief plot summary hardly conveys the texture of Plante’s novel or his style. The Woods is an exploration of Daniel’s heightened sensibility. Indeed, the novel seems to leave Daniel as confused about life as he was in the beginning; its interest is in recording how, to Daniel, the smallest details of life carry an almost cosmic significance. While drying a plate, for example, Daniel becomes obsessed with “the space around the plate,” which then leads him to an almost ecstatic separation from self that he finds...
(The entire section is 2156 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Library Journal. CVII, June 1, 1982, p. 1114.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 15, 1982, p. 2.
The New Republic. CLXXXVII, October 11, 1982, p. 37.
New Statesman. CIII, January 29, 1982, p. 20.
The New York Review of Books. XXIX, December 16, 1982, p. 38.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, August 15, 1982, p. 11.
The New Yorker. LVIII, September 20, 1982, p. 152.
Newsweek. C, September 6, 1982, p. 70.
Time. CXX, August 2, 1982, p. 76.
Times Literary Supplement. January 29, 1982, p. 105.
(The entire section is 60 words.)