Taking Wainui by Laura Solomon
|Taking Wainui by Laura Solomon|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kate Jones|
|Summary: An unusual blend of short stories and personal memoir.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 140||Date: July 2017|
|Publisher: Woven Words Publishers OPC Pvt. Ltd.|
|External links: Author's website|
This is the first time I have come across Laura Solomon's work, a New Zealand writer who has won writing prizes for both her fiction and poetry. Although this book appears to be a collection of short stories, I found its format somewhat confusing.
The title story Taking Wainui, previously published online, as is much of the material in the collection, is a story of a young boy who wishes to break free of his family, due to his father being a leading Black Mamba gang leader. He befriends the woman whose house he is breaking into, and she helps him to face up to his domineering father. This story, possibly the longest in the collection, has some merit, with relatively realistic speech. The description of the boy's initiation ceremony, for example.
We then encounter such stories as The Scar, which features a pair of disabled people tackling a restless ghost; a fantastical tale about a boy and a giant who become friends, Jacob and Fig; and White Lotus, featuring a bewitched tattoo that comes to life. All these stories tend to fall firmly into the magical realism genre, having fairly believable characters in fantastical situations.
So far, so short story collection. There then appears a short essay on the rising epidemic of bullying, featuring situations from the author's own life where she has been bullied and the repercussions of these. This felt like it belonged in another place to me, and looking at the credits at the front of the book, I saw it had in fact been written for a literary supplement. To put it into the book among a collection of short stories felt a little strange. Having read this half way through, I could then also see how the essay, and the author's life events, worked their way into some of the stories. In The Scar, for example, the narrator has suffered from a tumour on the brain, and in Dying Matters, the narrator is named 'Laura', the same name as the author, and I think this is a piece of non-fiction memoir which would come under the creative non-fiction umbrella.
To further add to the confusion, the last piece in the book is a blog post written by the author, celebrating the rise of electronic publishing for authors. Again, I'm unsure where this would fit into a short story collection, particularly a print publication.
Overall, I felt that this whole collection didn't work as it is presented in this format. The short stories themselves may be enjoyed by fans of magical realism or fantasy.
Further reading: If you liked this, you might like Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut
You can read more book reviews or buy Taking Wainui by Laura Solomon at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Taking Wainui by Laura Solomon at Amazon.com.
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