'It was as if they had all been plucked up out of nowhere, and set down with the express purpose of being amusing or interesting or something, and they had all been found wanting. It was so embarrassing, not knowing what way to be …' Reflecting on the evening gathering in one of the wooden huts at the Nant MacFarley camp a participant sums up the main matter of Another Part of the Wood. The camp is presided over by the physically large, but otherwise little defined George, son of the absent, paternalist MacFarleys whose brain-child it is. The assembled guests are an odd and chance mixture….
Their few days together are described with acuity; they are shown to be narrow, blind, selfish, strange and yet dread-fully ordinary. In fact, thoughts attributed to them (like the one quoted above) sometimes go beyond what you believe the characters to be capable of seeing, sound rather like the authorial voice displaced. One other small complaint is that the occasional flaw in style causes a hiccup in concentration. A sentence like 'a flux of tears came into Kidney's sparkling eyes', for example, sidetracks you into wondering about words themselves. Maybe these few roughnesses come from the fact that this is a rewriting of a novel first published in the Sixties.
The campers are made to talk, however, in a way that always convinces utterly. Irritating habits of speech—'The little woman loves her sweeties'—niggle...
(The entire section is 432 words.)