Monday, 12 April 2010

Good writing is full of surprises

In September I’m going to be teaching a whole raft of different classes for Kent Adult Education and amongst these classes is a one day course on Booker Prize Winners of the last twenty years.  I want to teach this because I think so often we hear all the hype about the book but never get around to reading it. Sometimes we get around to reading the book and no one else has and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to talk about the book. Thank goodness for the internet on that count – at least now I can stop boring family and friends endlessly about books I think are brilliant – now I can bore all of you.

No, that’s not come out right….

Anyway, I took a look at the Booker site and picked out a few of my favourites and added some of those I hadn’t read to my Must Read List. In the last few weeks I’ve worked my way through all of Pat Barker’s wonderful Regeneration Trilogypatbarker Which I can’t recommend highly enough – I adored it. The Ghost Road is the final one of the trilogy and mixes fact – WW1, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon with fiction – the character of Billy Prior who is an officer alongside Owen. The story was gripping and the prose quite beautiful. The ending was no surprise, inevitable to anyone who knows even the smallest amount about the First World War. I was reminded of the BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton and staring Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnery and Stephen Fry.

Even though this is a comedy it’s widely used now in schools to explain and teach about WW1 and personally I can’t watch it through without feeling tearful at the loss of a generation.

Pat Barker uses black humour throughout her books and the effect is similar to Curtis and Elton’s – one moment you’re laughing and the next in tears. Truly wonderful stuff.

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