Gunnel Beckman Dale Carson - Essay

Dale Carson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Very little is coherent about ["A Room of His Own," the] story of a boy on his own for the first time in a big city. His feelings about himself are muddled, his feelings about the family he left behind are muddled, his relationship to the girl who lives in his building is muddled. There is no plot to speak of, no story to tell, no discovery, no resolution. The outpouring of adolescent ruminations is depressingly unrevealing.

Anders, a young Swedish boy who has left his home town to go to school in Stockholm, has taken his own room in a boarding house. His major problems are homesickness, loneliness and guilt at leaving his family to their problems. In the same boarding house lives a young girl, Monica, who can't stay out of trouble—fast friends, drugs, difficulties with her mother. Anders becomes briefly involved with her troubles. That's the story.

Possibly part of the problem with the book is the translation from Swedish [by Joan Tate]. But I don't think so. As the prose is insufficient, so is the plot, the characterization, the conception. It's just a muddled, dull story about another teenager struggling through his adolescence, with little insight, insignificant relationships and little meaning.

Dale Carson, in a review of "A Room of His Own," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1974 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), June 23, 1974, p. 8.