Isabelle Holland

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Kirkus Reviews

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 197

[Chuck, in The Man without a Face, is a] teenage misogynist and compulsive underachiever…. Inevitably, he finds a mentor in the horribly scarred and romantic recluse Justin McLeod…. And inevitably again, this relationship between two emotional cripples leads to a once-only homosexual encounter (though the unsophisticated will have a tough time figuring out from the text just "what happened"). Chuck's bitterness is painfully real and the recognition of his sexual feelings commendably frank, but in return for this measure of honesty, the whole story is slanted to justify the "daring" subject matter—the psychological underpinnings are intrusive (talk of Oedipus complexes and sibling rivalry), the twin mysteries in the pasts of Chuck's dead father and Justin unlikely, the decadence and nastiness of Chuck's family overstressed (even Gloria's obnoxious boyfriend probably wouldn't kick the cat to death). For a hero with a face and a fully realized individuality, the bulkily packaged moral ("You can be free from everything but the consequences of what you do") just might not be too high a price to pay. (pp. 73-4)

"Older Fiction: 'The Man without a Face'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XL, No. 2, January 15, 1972, pp. 73-4.

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