Peter Rushforth Barry Yourgrau - Essay

Barry Yourgrau

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The author of ["Kindergarten," a] most unusual, reverberant yet at times precious novel is a young English schoolteacher. He has assembled an intricate, hybrid short fiction, a sort of extraordinary toy boat that voyages onto the dark waters of the suffering of innocents (in fairy tales, Nazi Germany, modern-day terrorism), bearing the flags of childhood and family, of self-knowledge and hope….

Through 190 pages … Mr. Rushforth has threaded not only numerous epistles (imaginary, I presume), but also—to make a partial, various list—several entire Grimm's fairy tales …; selections from German and English children's books, from "The Diary of Anne Frank," from "The Children's Haggadah"; songs and poems in German; detailed references to Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" and Breughel's painting, "Children's Games"; as well as enumerations of certain household items….

All this incorporated material transforms "Kindergarten" into a sort of holographic collage, where things resonate into various dimensions—the Jungian, the historical, the lyrically domestic and the individual—and where these dimensions blend into one another….

What the inclusion of such material also accomplishes is a virtually Victorian/Edwardian evocation (at times almost compulsive) of what childhood and family might be—something exquisitely secure and tender and loving—as if Mr. Rushforth were constructing a talisman...

(The entire section is 502 words.)