Mavis Thorpe Clark Virginia Haviland - Essay

Virginia Haviland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Joey, a troubled boy on probation for reckless driving in Melbourne, leaves his cheerless home and is fortunate in hitching a two-thousand-mile ride to a mining community in western Australia [in Iron Mountain]…. Joey's unsuccessful attempt to hide his past, and the problems of the individuals in Leah's family fill an engrossing, well-told story. The exaggerated geographical conditions heighten tensions; and the hot, dust-filled iron-mining country, where workers receive hardship bonuses and air-conditioned company houses, even becomes a protagonist. One can easily envision the mining operations, the dangers of the trackless mountain terrain and the cyclones, and Joey's and Woodie's follies. Joey, who could become excited because of the impressiveness and the beauty of the mountain colors, makes a strong central figure: and his decisions from first to last are convincing. (p. 561)

Virginia Haviland, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1972 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), February, 1972.

[Iron Mountain, an Australian novel,] has a sense of purpose, of didacticism even, which belongs to a developing art; this country's freedom from it is perhaps a sign of incipient decadence. Iron Mountain, for all its contemporary technology, is a moral tale and a remarkably good one. The action becomes suspended from time to time while the actors listen to...

(The entire section is 557 words.)