"THE LITTLE COUNTRY"
NEW ZEALAND NOVEL Under the pseudonym of "John Guthrie," Mr. John Brodic, of New Plymouth, has had published his first novel, "The Little Country." Mr. Brodie already lias written a number of short stories, with one of which he gained first prize in the New Zealand Herald's competition for the last Christinas supplement. "The Little Country" is not a "yarn" —indeed it is difficult to describe in a word. The story and its characters, only a few of whom are clearly delineated, make a frame for a canvas upon which something of New Zealand lifo and spirit is depicted. For pigments he has used incident, impression and a mass of the work-a-day matter of the daily journalist. There is everything in it from a borough council row with a remarkably amusing climax to a Maori tangi, this being a very faithful and fine piece of work; from public body extravagance and its consequences to the civic rivalries, somewhat exaggerated, of Auckland and Wellington; from an Old Thames' anniversary to the, broodings of a journalistic soul, into which the iron has not yet entered, over New Zealand's self-complacency; from the spoil of the All Blacks to the Farmers' Union, with its wide political swathe that often is not harvested.
To emphasise this aspect of the book is perhaps to diminish tho light of the artist, and that would be a critical wrong. The hand of the literary artist is revealed in a number of passages outstanding among which is that where David goes to an impressive and triumphant death.
Mr. Brodie has tackled a very severe task, but in important respects has justified his courage. Notwithstanding the form lie has chosen he has succeeded in drawing several characters which will live longer in the reader's memory than hundreds in fiction of a more commanding sort. There is some crisp dialogue and also good humour, though the author has failed, as all New Zealand writers have so far failed, to present what may be the essence of the humour of the countryside that lies not in wit with all its claws, but in what the man in the street calls "leg-pulling." Someone eventually will show the extent to which a type of humorous New Zealander, wearing a poker face, will indulge in this pastime, even though in the process ho must accept the role of the fool. However, Mr. Brodie's Colin is a cheerful bit of fooling, and readers will agree that some of his serious characters are very well drawn and convincing. Perhaps the book could have been improved by a bit of ruthless subediting—some of the newspaper talk would certainly have been cut out bv n competent journalist—but one has no hesitation in commending "The Little Country" to a public which is eager to see New Zealand life and work portrayed by New Zealand talent. Mr. Brodie is quite ignorant of the art of publicity that is so widely practised in these days of mass book production, and probably desires to hide himself Tinder the name of "John Guthrie." One feels impelled, nevertheless, to mention a fact or two gleaned from other sources. He went from the New Plymouth High School to Canterbury College, where he took a B.A. degree and gained a diploma in journalism. A good footballer, ho played for Canterbury as halfback during the absence of Dally in England, and toured Australia with the University team. Through a football injury ho entered hospital, and eventually had to have a leg amputated. Much of "The Little Country" was written between surgical operations, when Mr. Brodie "was encased in plaster up to his waist. " The Little Country," by John Guthrie. (Xelson and Sons.)
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"THE LITTLE COUNTRY", New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXII, Issue 22166, 20 July 1935, Supplement
"THE LITTLE COUNTRY" New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXII, Issue 22166, 20 July 1935, Supplement
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