Book Review: FUSE, by Sally Partridge

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Category : Food for Thought, art

Not too long ago, to my surprise, one of my newest Twitter friends proved to be a successful South African writer. I am saying”to my surprise” because you don’t REALLY get to come close to such an individual, especially when you’re an unknown blogger, practically living at the end of the world to that person.

Her name is Sally-Ann Partridge. Twitter knows her as @Sapartridge. And now I also know her as S. A. Partridge, the novel writer, the 2007 winner of I Am A Writer Competition and 2008 winner of the MER Prize for best youth novel.

The launch of her latest novel took place in June 2009, so I am realizing now that I might be amongst the first international readers of Fuse, and I thank Sally Partridge for sending a copy of her precious work that far away, to Romania! It means she considered me worthy in at least one way. So thanks again, Sally!

Usually, when I set my hands on a book sent/recommended by a friend, I immediately start reading it, even if I am caught into reading something else. I consider it as sort of a duty.

In all these years, I have learned to read books in a more special way. While a teenage would see Fuse as something close to an adventure book, I see it as the radiography of a terrible perception of family and society as rendered through the adventurous life and perspective of two teenage brothers. Anger and indignation, fear and violence, superficiality and cruelty, fear of the world and ourselves, a kid seeking a path on a road that seems to be paved with abrupt walls and a brother striving between his father’s imposed crooked model and his own developing one.

What I like about Sally Partridge is the manner in which she manages to explain the natural origin of some concepts that are usually perceived as being part of a wrong set of values, when in fact they are just part of a ramification of the same positive values of humanity, only understood in a wrong way: like why a teenager would come to be hated for the image he is practically forced to display, by individuals incapable of understanding “different”. Or what is the major cause of kids losing control in high school. Simple, logical explanations to simple but difficult to understand things.

Paratextual elements: The quality of the contract Sally Partridge establishes with the readers, as well as the quality of the message she wants to transmit are ensured by her smart choice of titles, subtitles and division of chapters. It was easy for me to read this novel, because the chapters are short, the story is interesting, intense and told in a fast pace, practically forcing me to want to get to the end as soon as possible. Just like a burning fuse.

Some annotations I made while reading the book. It’s just my perspective. My way of decrypting this text.

Title:   Fuse

  • - a metaphor of life and its fiery struggles towards an explosive or extinct end
  • - a metaphor of the elder brother, functioning as a hypothetical protective device for safeguarding the younger brother
  • - a metaphor of melting individualities – different personalities working/experiencing life towards adjusting themselves to one another in the end

Main themes:

- love: brotherly love, motherly love
- adoption
- the building of one’s individuality, which comprises processes of both similarity and difference, the development of one’s personality by both referring to the others and acting by oneself
- sacrifice: self sacrifice, sacrificing the “rotten family” in order to achieve a “purified/perfect family”
- life:

  • - as a journey – implying steps like planning, evaluating course, providing financial and material resources, etc
  • - as a fuse – implying a fast unwinding of explosive unexpected events
  • - as a circle with a broken  (the father) replaced ring

Semantic dualities:

- family vs. society (micro and macro cosmos)
- domestic violence vs. violence in society
- innocence/purity vs. corruption
- native vs. adopted
- nature vs. nurture
- common vs. un-common bodies: a gliding from “feeling bad” up to “feeling at ease” in one’s own body
- victim vs. victimizer / bullied vs. bully

Motifs:

- the orphan – the outcast, unloved, unwanted, the impostor – wonderful semantic field used by the author!
- the toys – as metaphors of childhood, hence the “forced handing over of the toys” as a childhood forced into maturity.
- the “dilapidated front garden” – the garden is a wonderful metaphor of the family, I really loved this one, Sally!
- the prison – the body as a prison, the house as a prison, the family as a prison, life as a prison

Yes, Sally! I enjoyed reading Fuse a lot! Thanks again and good luck with your future work!

Visit S.A. Partridge’s website

Check out S.A. Partridge’s books

New Cinema in Town

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Category : Food for Thought

Hey, don’t mind the previous post, this s*it happens a lot when you go out with people for a pint of boiled wine… Wine makes you feel funny and think funny. But I will leave it there because it is part of me. Anyway, back to our sheep!

Can you imagine a town of almost 150.000 – 200.000 people having no cinema in the last couple of years? I can’t… There used to be three cinemas in my city, two of them disappeared around ten-fifteen years ago, and the last one… well… the last one looked so sad lately no one would even go in.

I used to go to the cinema every week. It didn’t matter what movie they had. Every week, I would be there, popcorn, juice and date/friends beside me. I loved the feeling of being in a big room with a big screen and loud sound… I loved the feeling of almost being in that movie I was watching. Sure… I also loved the things I did in the dark. Don’t think stupid, you’re better than that, wink!

Do you remember, girl, when we went to see the freaking Titanic? We ran from school and we could barely find seats for that friggin’ movie! Big deal! Remember how all our row was crying the hell out of them and I was like “Oh, there’s another one plunging into water… holy shit, he’s gonna get crushed by the towers! You stupid idiot, turn around, you’re gonna get kil… ah, damn, I told you you’re gonna die! Splash! Another one… weeeeeeeeee!” I really thought I was gonna get a good beating that day!

So during the past two years, we practically had no cinema. I wasn’t bothered very much, I started borrowing dvds from friends, then stealing movies online. Meh… like you never did that! Anyway, it was just that feeling I was missing. The big room, the big screen, the loud sound, the popcorn and juice, the fighting over the best seats (”Dude, I am telling you, I got H35, don’t make me get the ticket… you can sit right over there, wtf, are you fighting over a seat, the foken movie starts in a minute… SIT DOWN ffs!”), the commercial at the beginning, the date, the buddies… the entire package.

Tonight, I went to the movies with a friend at the city’s new cinema. Ooooh yes, you heard me well: new cinema in town! I won’t go into details and explain how awesome it looks both on the inside and the outside… We saw New in Town (something like that, don’t make me Google now…), with Renee Zellweger, not because we necessary wanted to, but because that was the closest one when we arrived.Typical romance pattern, but one absolutely funny moment in which I nearly crawled on the floor laughing, no kidding!

And to prove the atmosphere is a swell one, we’re going to see the Valkyrie thing tomorrow evening. Just to test whether history maintains itself or not. You know… Take that for a good new cinema city, aye?

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