Final Things

John Sligo, Author Penguin Books $6.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-14-009880-8
Comprising three novellas, this uneven book is at once compelling and disturbing. Preoccupied by war and death, Sligo's characters search for meaning within the narrow confines of rural New Zealand. ""A New Eden?'' chronicles the tragedies and triumphs of a family seeking an alternative to the provincial views and lifestyles of their fellow villagers, who run the gamut from anti-Communist, mean-spirited gossips to soldiers who glorify war because it provides a temporary escape. Nicholas Fieschi, dying of leukemia, returns to New Zealand to make peace with himself and his family in ``Going Home,'' a powerful, lyrical meditation on the search for transcendence. ``Burnham Camp,'' the weakest entry, encapsulates Sligo's view of New Zealand: ``A country which dedicated its energies to monotony, equality and Rugby. And . . . incoherence when faced with life or death.'' Unfortunately, events in these pieces often occur haphazardly, and some observations meant to carry philosophical weight are trite. The drawbacks are counterbalanced, though, by Sligo's astute probing of eternity, and by moments of enlightenment and mystic wisdom that are strewn throughout like gems. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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