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David Marr blames Ade­laide for the fact that this novel, started to block White’s anx­i­ety over his pub­lisher’s ver­dict on the au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal Flaws in the Glass, was never fin­ished. Only the first part of a planned trip­tych was penned and largely cor­rected in 1981 when Jim Sharman asked his friend White for a play to open the Ade­laide Fes­ti­val. For a time White worked on the two projects to­gether, but he was old and ail­ing: the play, Sig­nal Driver, was the eas­ier and more im­me­di­ate op­tion and the novel went into the bot­tom drawer.

Which is a shame, not only be­cause nov­els are far more ac­ces­si­ble to the gen­eral reader than plays, but be­cause it is a lovely piece, com­plete as far as it goes, which is to the end of the war in Europe, but tan­ta­lis­ingly in­com­plete in that there is no in­di­ca­tion of where White would have taken it next.

As well as cel­e­brat­ing the child­like – the holy fools who have the as­cen­dancy in much of his work – White was also in­ter­ested in the way chil­dren see

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