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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


By David Mitchell is one of those books that you never stop thinking about, long after you have read it, that is.

Even if you are not into coming of age tales, you would do well to pick this up. It is a literary master piece, handled so much differently from Mitchell's earlier work - 'Ghostwritten', 'number9dream' and the spell-binding 'Cloud Atlas'.

Through the life of 13 year old Jason Taylor you are transported to a little village in Worcestershire. The year is 1982 - around the time of the Falklands war. The story is that of a boy coming to grips with his adolescence and his family that is on the cusp of collapse.

Through one year in Jason's life, you realise that while the setting is that of a seemingly sleepy town, the unfolding events are anything but.

On the political front, there is England in the time of the dying Cold War. On the personal front, there is Jason - whose days in this year are marked by many firsts - first smoke, first kiss, first deaths, meeting the first Gypsies and a whole lot more.

Then there are the expected bullies who compound Jason's stammer. Despite these setbacks, the poet in him emerges slowly but surely:

"Mum warned me to stop being a Clever Little Schoolboy. I should've shut up but I pointed out that Dad never makes her eat melon (which she hates) and Mum never makes Dad eat garlic (which he hates). She went ape and sent me to my room. When Dad got back I got a lecture about my arrogance. No pocket money that week, either."

Another part about Hemingway's 'Old Man and the Sea' is bound to bring that reluctant smile on even the harshest readers faces:

"But it's just about an old guy catching a monster sardine. If Americans cry at that they'll cry at anything."

Beyond family, school, books, bullies, poems, politics - 'Black Swan Green' is so much of everything that each one of us has dealt with at some point in our lives. Though it needs a genius narrator like Mitchell to tell it all in one book.

Right from start to end, this was one ride, I wished would go on forever.

Now if that's inspired you to pen your next tome, David Mitchell style, here are five quick tips from the master himself:
1. Take your time.
2. Write your characters' autobiographies.
3. Remember: It's about people.
4. A quote from Stephen King: "adverbs are not your friends."
5. Write something every single day, even if it's just three lines. And it doesn't matter if it's any good - just write something every day.