Blackbird

Ivan Southall, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $14 (135p) ISBN 978-0-374-30783-7
This typically challenging work by the Australian author of Josh and other stream-of-consciousness books is set during World War II. Although the Japanese army is thousands of miles away, Will believes it is his duty to defend his family's home from an invasion. While he recedes into this military fantasy, his father, a colonel, is absent; then his sister is sent away, to boarding school; and his brother is called to fight. Finally, left only with the company of a blackbird and a cat (his mother can no longer reach him), Will confronts the limits of his powers. ``I'm out of my depth,'' he tells the shrieking, pesky blackbird. ``It's time you bothered someone else.'' Southall's unconventional style, made up of dialogue fragments and constant shifts of perspective, is imaginative but wildly enigmatic. Readers who like to know exactly what is happening may have trouble with that. But those who stick with it will be rewarded and startled by this glimpse of people poised on the brink who, in war's troubling times, fight their ways back from the madness. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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