John W. Conner

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 479

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Occasionally a novel is so moving that this reader abandons all pretense of composure. The result of such physical catharsis is usually a second reading with emotions held severely in check to determine how the author structured the story. An exceedingly fine line separates the truly maudlin from romantic reality. I was not cheated by John Neufeld. A second reading of Touching revealed his tightly structured style and sparse but brilliant language. The author often breaks his account at the point when a reader can imagine eloquently for himself. It was at these times when my emotions took over, stimulated by the carefully chosen language of the author. This author telescopes ideas in a manner which should appeal to media-conscious adolescents. This approach created an intensely real feeling for this reader. (p. 1303)

Touching is concerned with the relationships between people: the artificial relationships created by family ties, the real relationships which grow because of mutual interests and desires. It is a brief book which should be read in a single sitting, if possible. The author is a careful writer. Every word, every nuance in this tale builds to the final page of the novel. I think adolescents will be intrigued by Twink and Whizzer. And I think an adolescent reader may understand himself better because he has met Harry Walsh. (pp. 1303-04)

John W. Conner, "Book Marks: 'Touching'," in English Journal (copyright © 1970 by the National Council of Teachers of English; reprinted by permission of the publisher and the author), Vol. 59, No. 9, December, 1970, pp. 1303-04.

Apres Nixon, le deluge…. The time [of Sleep Two, Three, Four! A Political Thriller] is 1983 and one Wagenson has been President for 10 years. His secret Special Forces units … have put the fear of man, fellow-man, into everyone and thus insured his tenure: "The President was right," sighs the woman attacked at the startling outset; "To have elections now would only divide the country." D. J. Berryman, sixteen and one of the attackers, is divided himself, unbearably: conned into joining Unit Five …, he wants out—but the Government has a long arm…. Neufeld is indefatigably imaginative in creating his scenario and in profiling some splendid young people like D. J. in binds; but when he assembles them all on a protracted journey to rescue a friend from the Iowa men's detention center, the story starts losing the grimly rigorous momentum that commanded a suspension of disbelief early on…. By the time the mission is accomplished, all that remains is a vestigial urgency—in the anticlimactic form of hope for "peace soon" and "love forever"; the book has long since become tediously bottom-heavy, increasingly disingenuous, just pseudo-apocalyptic. It may still have a lot of things going for it, but it's certainly over-ambitious. (pp. 882-83)

"Older Fiction: 'Sleep Two, Three, Four! A Political Thriller'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1971 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXIX, No. 16, August 15, 1971, pp. 882-83.




John W. Conner