Roderick L(angmere) Haig-Brown Margaret Wallace - Essay

Margaret Wallace

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In part "Timber" is the simple, virile, roughly tender story of the friendship between … two young loggers—a friendship which survives, though narrowly, the strain of their attraction to the same girl … There is something not much short of Homeric in this chronicle of their hard and dangerous and zestful lives.

But beyond this, "Timber" will be remembered as a remarkable study of the logging industry, set down in full and loving detail as only a logger could have done it. One observes in this connection—and not by any means for the first time—how great an advantage it is to a novelist to know what he is talking about, and to know it from honest first-hand experience….

This is what Roderick Haig-Brown does for the men who get out the giant logs from the steep forests of British Columbia. Like other writers who turn to fiction for the first time after notable success in the field of non-fiction, Mr. Haig-Brown is not at one bound so dexterous a story teller as he may well become. There are structural faults in "Timber," moments when dramatic values are lost for lack of a few mechanical tricks. When it comes to description, however, he does not need to yield place to any one. His book has the veritable ring of axes and the smell of fir forests in it.

Margaret Wallace, "Western Loggers," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1942 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 22, 1942, p. 22.