I just bought two new books, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and Breath by Tim Winton. Clearly they’re both briliant pieces of writing.
I heard Christos Tsiolkas interviewed on ABC Radio National. This what prompted me to buy the book. Although he’s a man without children of his own, I was surprised by his insight into children and, more to the point, his capacity to describe the values that we hold. I like the notion of the book, of eight vignettes told from the perspectives of eight different adults. It resonates well with me as an observer of people and culture I’ve always been fascinated by people’s capacity to view an event through their own set of values. I’ve explored this to a degree in my own work, both in the field and then when writing some multiple pathway stories that became interactive e-learning objects, published by The Le@rning Federation.
Whenever we reflect of the different ways of seeing and understanding an event or a situation we inevitably become somewhat self reflective. This doesn’t mean that we must descent into relativism but accepting that there are different ways of understanding the same event is cause to avoid a rush to judgment.
In 1950 the Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa made Rashomon, one of cinema’s great classics, he had a habit of doing this. It’s the story of a Samurai and his wife who are attacked by a bandit. The bandit Tajomaru is captured and is put on trial. Tajomaru and the samurai’s wife tell completely different accounts of the event. In the hope of discoveriong the truth the court arranges for a spirit medium to tell the story from the perspective of the dead man. The result is yet another interpretationn. Finally a wood cutter, who saw the whole event, tells his story which is different again. So Tsiolkas is writing in a well established tradition and I look forward to reading his treatment.
What really grabbed though was Tim Winton’s Breath. I picked it up and was immediately captured. It was a struggle to put it down and leave for work. There was action right from the first moment. There’s no doubt in my mind which book I’ll read first. Action wins every time. I even enjoyed Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, for the same reason.