This month’s out of the archive post is a review if the short stories of O.E Middleton and Maurice Shadbolt by R.A. Copland from Landfall 56 (1960).
The New Zealanders, by Maurice Shadbolt (Gollancz, 1959), 18s. The Stone and Other Stories, by O.E. Middleton (The Pilgrim Press, 1959), 12S. 6d.
Each of these stories has a planned meaning and direction. To illustrate this we may consider the shortest of them all, ‘Thank you Goodbye’. An episode is related with ease and the conversation and gestures are almost idly supplied, so that the ‘design’ (to employ a useful ambiguity), is tactfully involved in the detail. Yet it is the achievement of the story to get something painful and indeed tragic said about the present predicament of humanity in general, at the very moment when it is being most faithful to the particular crisis. It is this relevance of Mr Shadbolt’s stories which, when successfully managed, constitutes their distinction. He sees and shows us the wider allusion in the situations he has chosen. Actually I suspect that he sometimes proceeds the other way round, and from the wider idea works down to a representative case. It is clear, in any event, that he looks upon this country with an educated intelligence and with an awareness of its history as strongly developed as his observation of its forms and manners.