War on the Wheels

War on the Wheels
The story of the people

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sophie's unusual ideas

I have finished Camel Bites and really liked it, which worries me. I am a tad older than a teenager and surely seriously out of touch; I would be fascinated to see how actual teenagers react (I will have a look at some reviews). Three things interested me in particular. There is a strong moral element; educational information is provided both by the lines in French, but also by the description of Tangier; finally prayer is given what seem to be genuine space as Lily enters a church and tells of her problems. If these things are acceptable to a 21st century audience then tell me where I begin.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Sophie and Lily

I have come to the camel bite and the trip to the bazaar and I admit surprise. I am enjoying this book aimed at teenage girls. The protagonist has a convincing character; her voice is authentic and we spend a lot of time with her. The other characters are well shaped and the conflict is gentle but never far away. It is part overt but part internal and this is a strength.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Sophie Parkin - Bazaar Nights and Camel Bites

Sophie is coming as guest speaker in a week's time and I am writing up her talk. I had looked at her website and at extracts from her novels but now I have her latest teen novel in my hands. She writes in the first person and I would say finds the voice of a teenage girl - the daughter in My Family. The opening seems to hang loose from the central action, but Parkin too knows her Aristotle as the visit from the school teacher to the bizarre family Christmas is given meaning as she quotes from the book her gave her on Morocco. The inciting incident is the coming of the French boy whom both friends fancy. Thus far most of the conflict about this is internal to Lily the protagonist.

How Capote follows Aristotle

Capote takes his reader through the trial and into the time when execution is awaited. In the TV court room drama the focus is on the verdict, with sub plots, often of loose connection, slotted in to keep attention. Capote sticks closely to Aristotle’s rule that the focus must always be on the Action/idea. We are told about the characters, but all the time the focus is utterly clear. It is a density of writing that perhaps Salman Rushdie used in Midnight Children. It offers the reader a much deeper but also more rounded experience. It knocks on the head the desire on the part of the writer to engage in flights of fancy as the plot wonders hither and thither. Be utterly clear what the point is and stick to it.
A great book

Friday, 7 November 2008

The texture of Capote's writing is compelling

I accept it is embarrassing how long I am spending reading this book. My defence is that there is plenty going on at the same time. The advantage is that there is an opportunity to savour after each short burst of reading.
I have just come through the part where Capote gives the texts of an exchange of letters between Perry and his sister plus a critique of the latter's writing offered by Perry's evangelical friend. These documents offer deep insights into Perry's character such that the reader is slowly nudged toward believing that Perry could have murdered. (I am not there yet).
The detective is not shown drink coffee and upturning clues, rather we are shown a view of the effect the investigation is having on his health and his marriage. This is deeply human stuff.
The problem with this is how on earth is the vital clue going to be uncovered. The answer comes in chapter 3 where the only person who can make the connection begins to do so and in a convincing way.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cold Blood

The slow progress is all down to my granddaughter - so no apologies!
The author is showing us two sets of characters: those grouped round the family decimated by the crime, and the criminals. He then paints both groups with the same sympathetic pallet. As readers the temptation is to cry out condemn, but he won't. He seems to offer very little in the way of clues to allow us to make the connection. Equally he doesn't, as yet, let us get close only to be disappointed. Yet I read on.
The style of writing as revealed by the page layout is intriguing. It is what I have previously referred to a reportage but interspersed with remembered speech and in some cases dialogue. This latter has the effect of making it feel that we are being shown rather than told.