THE BOOK CENTRES ON THE YOUNG NARRATOR, Blessing, in Nigeria, against a backdrop of political violence caused by the actions of oil companies in the Niger Delta. Blessing lives with her parents and brother, Ezikiel, in Lagos in a cocoon of luxury and comfort. However, soon her father’s abandonment of the family for another woman forces her mother to go to her parents’ home in the Delta, with Blessing and Ezikiel, where conditions are raw and squalid. In the neighbourhood gangs of violent boys prey on anyone they don’t like. The local police are portrayed as a corrupt mafia demanding bribes at every juncture. Inter-ethnic conflict is endemic.
We are never quite sure whether Blessing’s grandfather, the head of household, is the qualified petroleum engineer he claims to be, unjustly excluded by overpaid ex-pats, or a fantasist. It is the grandmother, a much-respected midwife, who keeps the family together. She gradually initiates Blessing into the mysteries of her profession.
Blessing’s brother, Ezikiel, is the other major character in the story. He is angry about his mother’s taking up with Westerners and joins the gang. In the course of trying to blow up a pipeline, he suffers horrifying burns, which lead to his death. The Oedipal and political struggle with his mother shatters her and she decides to wed a Western admirer, Dan. The wedding becomes the tragic centre of the plot when a gang of youths abduct Dan in mid-wedding.
‘FINAL DRAFT – THE INDUSTRY STANDARD FOR SCRIPTWRITING’ is described as ‘essential software’ by Michéal Jacob (formerly the BBC’s creative head of mainstream comedy and executive producer of sitcoms My Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet Of Crisps, and The Smoking Room.)
As this is the case, I was wondering if a scriptwriter out there who was lucky enough to own Final Draft might like to write a review of it for us?
I’m sorry but there would be no payment for said review – except for the prestige of having one published on WRITERSDOCK, with your byline intact of course!
We look forward to hearing from you.
RECENTLY I HAVE NOTICED SEVERAL TRAILERS ON THE TELEVISION for a series of programmes entitled Shakespeare Unlocked. This raised two questions in my mind:
• Why does Shakespeare need to be unlocked?
• Why do I, personally, have such a love for the writings of Shakespeare?
To take the questions in the order that they are posited, I suspect that the answer to the first lies in two of the most common comments that I hear when people are discussing his plays, which go as follows:
• They can’t possibly have any relevance or interest for me; they’re written in such old-fashioned language that they obviously only applied to the times when he was alive.
• He writes all his words in funny orders instead of just coming straight out with it and saying what he means.
Whether I agree with either or both of these statements is not the point at issue here. I hear them expressed often enough to know that they are true and relevant to a significant number of people, and they form a barrier to the desire to listen to what he has to say: therefore his writings do need to be unlocked for a large number of people.
One potential answer to the first question, then, lies in my answer to the second, which is not:
‘Because I am a middle-aged (being kind) literary fuddy-duddy.’
The descriptive part of that sentence may well have a foundation in truth but the first word makes the sentence as a whole, as an answer to the question posed. That is not how I come to have such a deep-rooted love of the Bard’s works.
KLATSAND, FORMERLY FISH CREEK, IN OREGON is a tiny settlement that grows over four generations to become an off-the-beaten-track and less than fashionable coastal resort town. It lies on the Pacific coast of Oregon and is only separated from that mighty body of water by the Searoad of the title. In one poem, ten short stories and one longer assemblage of diary entries from the ladies of three generations of one local family, and occasional interjections from a fourth generation, we are introduced to a variety of residents and passing personnel who interact with their surroundings. In sharing the lives of these people we are enabled to see some of the pivotal events of the twentieth century on those whose lives are lived outside of the mainstream of American Society.
There are two factors, for me, that make this a hugely enjoyable but quite difficult book to read. Firstly, the language is so beautiful in its own right that it is very difficult to concentrate on the content of the stories rather than the words themselves. This is one book that should definitely be read, and loved, as a paper copy rather than an electronic one. Every word carries the feeling that it has been deliberated over at length, and chosen then placed with surgical precision. The language of all the stories and diary entries verges on the poetic and flows with the same effortless motion as the Pacific Ocean, which borders one side of the Searoad.