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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Three Uneasy Pieces

by
Patrick White


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To purchase Three Uneasy Pieces



Title: Three Uneasy Pieces
Author: Patrick White
Genre: Fiction
Written: 1987
Length: 59 pages
Availability: Three Uneasy Pieces - US
Three Uneasy Pieces - UK
  • Three Uneasy Pieces was apparently never published in the United States

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Our Assessment:

A- : brief, deceptively light and effective pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Antipodes B Spring/1988 Carolyn Bliss
London Rev. of Books . 8/12/1988 Philip Horne


  From the Reviews:
  • "These stories lack the convincing density and scope of the major novels and even much of White's short fiction. Instead of proceeding by means of a rich proliferation of ambiguous, evocative, but finally consonant detail, they merely gesture toward implication through a shorthand predicated on suggestive imagery." - Carolyn Bliss, Antipodes

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       These are uneasy pieces, three brief examples of Patrick White's art. They seem almost effortless, the words coming so naturally, the sound so right, White always in complete command of his art.
       The first piece, The Screaming Potato, is barely two pages long. A mere sketch of recollection and reflection, it is a brief consideration of growing old. White writes:

I would like to believe in the myth that we grow wiser with age. In a sense my disbelief is my wisdom.
       Always the realist, White is accepting of what he must come to terms with -- though he can't pass up a touch of the sardonic, and of the touching. He ends with a prayer, a wish: "O Lord, dispel our dreams" .....

       The second piece, Dancing with Both Feet on the Ground is slightly longer. It looks at: "The un-reason of the past and even more the now." The narrator is old, and still he dances, in his kitchen. It is a scene of dilapidation -- the dishwasher no longer works, there is a mess on the floor, on his bathrobe. But there is still a power within, that keeps him moving, dancing "almost without knowing it".
       He remembers also a scene from youth, in a snow-bound European Schloss, another dance. Past and present come together: "Is it now or then ?" he finds himself wondering.
       It is again the details -- the sentences, the asides -- that succeed best in this trimmed, half-dreamy piece.

       Finally, there is The Age of a Wart, which also ranges from youth to old age. The narrator, as a child, gets a wart from friend Bluey Platt. Bluey isn't particularly likeable, yet he touches something in the narrator -- perhaps both the ugliness and the intimacy suggested by the passing disfiguring wart. The blemish goes away, but the narrator's hope -- that with it he is "shaking off some of the hold" his classmate has on him is disappointed.
       Life changes: Blue leaves school, the narrator and his family head off to England (the narrator's life, as in the other stories, is a near-parallel to White's own). "Nothing to the war years", he can write.
       The narrator can't forget Blue, and comes close to crossing paths with him again and again -- but Blue (like the memories, like the wart) remains elusive. Times passes, quickly to its ravaging end. Only in old, old age, the mind already going, does the narrator then find some release and understanding.
       The piece is beautifully rounded off. White is a grand stylist, the writing deceptively simple, full of short, crisp sentences, but adding up to so much more than many manage in much bigger fictions.

       Three Uneasy Pieces is full of restraint. So famous for his long novels, White here can hold back and do just what is necessary. It works well. They make a fine, touching read

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Links:

Three Uneasy Pieces: Reviews: Patrick White: Other books by Patrick White under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Patrick White (1912-1990), Australian author. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. Schooled in England (at Cheltenham, and King's College, Cambridge). His first novel Happy Valley was published in 1939. Worked for R.A.F Intelligence during WWII, after which he returned to Australia.

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