Allan W. Eckert Oscar A. Bouise - Essay

Oscar A. Bouise

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

What begins as a routine account of the migration to winter quarters of a flock of birds—unusual birds, it is true—develops into a tense tale of the struggle of the great auks against the forces which unwittingly combined to annihilate them as a species. The author calls [The Great Auk] a novel and rightly so: a more powerful or tragic plot can hardly be matched by anything conceived in the mind of a great writer. (p. 269)

Eckert is masterful when describing incidents and places, some purely imaginative…. [His] descriptions are vivid, palpable, intensely real. Amazingly he seems most effective when seeing and assessing these things through the eyes and minds of his "characters," a tribute to his imaginative genius.

This reviewer confesses that he approached the task of reading The Great Auk with little or no relish: just a bird story, he mused. However, he finished it with sad joy: sadness for the fate of those brave, non-flying birds …, and joy because of the artistic experience which the reading of this novel brought. (p. 270)

Oscar A. Bouise, "Fiction: 'The Great Auk'," in Best Sellers (copyright 1963, by the University of Scranton), Vol. 23, No. 15, November 1, 1963, pp. 269-70.

[The] so-called objective reporter reveals [in A Time of Terror] that really his heart throbs like a bass drum, as he lovingly renders documentary scenes of human triumph and failure during catastrophe. Eckert does have the grace to admit that some of this book is documentary fiction. The reader is likely to guess that anyway when he finds himself privy to the inmost thoughts of people who die the next moment…. This story of hundreds of individual deaths and rescues during fire and flood is drastically readable.

"Non-Fiction: 'A Time of Terror'," in Virginia Kirkus' Service, Vol. XXXIII, No. 2, January 15, 1965, p. 86.