Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Movie Review: The Railway Man

I am a big fan of Colin Firth. I think he's an outstanding and gifted actor so when I noticed that he was playing in The Railway Man at our local theater, I decided to give the movie a try.

The movie is based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a British Officer and engineer who was forced to work on the Thai Burmese railway after being taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. (Incidentally, the movie The Bridge Over the River Kwai is about the same railway project.)

You may not care for the way the story is told in flashbacks and jumps between Lomax's anguished life after the war and the horrific torture he suffered during the war, but it worked for me. How can you separate the present from the past when they are inextricably bound together by such a painful experience?

The thing about Eric Lomax is that he is obsessed with trains. He knows everything about them. It's how he meets and falls in love with Patti (Nicole Kidman) after the war. His fascination with trains is also one of the things, along with building a radio, that causes the Japanese to suspect that he is a spy during the war. He undergoes interrogation and unbelievable torture at the hands of Takashi Nagase.

When he returns to Britain after the war, he and his fellow prisoners are broken men, unable and unwilling to talk about their war experiences. Lomax suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder in the form of terrible nightmares and hallucinations. When he meets Patti on a train, you hope that she will be his redemption, but he has no reprieve from his terrors and Patti tries her best to cope with his PTSD. Then one day Lomax learns that his torturer is still alive and making his living by providing tours of the prison camp which has been turned into a war museum. Lomax is filled with murderous rage and a desire for vengeance. He decides to return to the camp and confront his torturer Nagase.

The rest of the story is about his confrontation with Nagase and his eventual reconciliation with his torturer. It's a simple, low-key story with a powerful statement about suffering and reconciliation. There is nothing flashy about this movie, but it is definitely worth seeing.

1 comment:

  1. Great review and it sounds worth seeing! We are both Colin Firth fans as well.