Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Writing - Sometimes books are force fed to us

I went to teacher training college in Bradford, W. Yorkshire in 1968 and can remember some items from my reading list. Books that we were force fed at the behest of someone else's literary taste.

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'Cider with Rosie' was one of those books; others included the Complete Works of Shakespeare, a dictionary and a thesaurus. The Shakespeare was never opened or referred to in 3 years but Cider was. I don't remember the name of the lecturer in English Literature, a lady, but she was obviously smitten by Laurie Lee's writing. It was based on the author's early life in Gloucestershire and captured the atmosphere of the summers, school and growing up in the early part of the twentieth century, post WWI. It was a book that I would never have chosen myself but I was pleased that someone did.
Choosing a book for someone is rather like recommending a film or a restaurant, it can turn out to be a disaster. On the other hand if you don't point someone in certain directions they may miss out on something good.
Reading 'Cider' didn't tempt me to hunt out more of Lee's work but it was a memorable read.

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The second book recommended during my three years at college was 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding. This dystopian story about a gang of boys on a deserted island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results was published in 1954. Golding explored human nature, individual welfare and their relationship with the common good. I find while writing my Steele novels that how people react to each other in a variety of situations colours the reactions that I create. It is based on my experience of human nature as observed over very many years and interpreted in the light of my own personal experiences. Another indicator that people who write put more of themselves into their work than even they realise.

Coming completely up-to-date I watched a film recently called 'The Maze Runner'

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I must admit to not having read the book of the same title written by James Dashner and published in 2009. It is the first book in a post apocalyptic trilogy and Dashner has produced two prequels since its success.
Rather like 'Lord of the Flies' this is another gang of boys who wake up individually in an elevator with the only memory being their names. They live together in a glade surrounded by an enormous concrete wall and an opening that leads to a maze but which is closed daily and anyone caught in there never returns. The group are led by two boys who keep order by enforcing a strict set of rules. Everything begins to change when a new boy, Thomas, comes to the glade via the elevator. He is more inquisitive than the others, a divergent thinker, who shakes the others security in following the rules by asking why? A bit of a metaphor for the place of creative people in  a regimented society.
I can't say I was that impressed but the tenet of the story were appealing if a little predictable. As with most stories it was an exploration of human relationships which is surely what we all explore at some level whether we write for children or the darker genres.

God Bless