I think it's safe to say that now everyone knows of YANN MARTEL, the author of LIFE OF PI. Before Pi, however, I knew nothing of this great storyteller. My creative writing tutor strongly recommended his Man Booker Prize-winning short story collection, The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, so I went and checked it out from the library. Shall we begin?
It's been a long time since I've picked up any book so irresistibly attractive even before I read the blurb. It's because of it's size and shape. I never take for granted a book that just feels 'right' and this book is as close to perfect as it gets.
This hardcover gem is 19 cm by 12 cm and 3 cm thick. It is the most warmly welcoming, little brick of a book, the sort of thing you would want to take with you everywhere purely because it's nice to hold. I'd fallen in love before I'd read a word of it.
Yann Martel's Introduction
I haven't even started reading the stories yet because the author's note was so compelling! I knew by the end of the first page that I wouldn't be able to resist blogging it.
"... One consequence of this youthful existential crisis was my first creative effort, a once-act play I wrote over the course of three days. It was about a young man who falls in love with a door. When a friend finds out, he destroys the door. Our hero promptly commits suicide. It was, without question, a terrible piece of writing, irredeemably blighted by immaturity. But I felt as though I'd come upon a violin, picked it up and brought bow to strings: the sound I made was perhaps terrible - but what a beautiful instrument! There was something deeply compelling about creating a setting, inventing characters, giving them dialogue, directing them through a plot, and by these means presenting my view of life. For the first time, I had found an endeavour into which to pour all my energies."
Excerpt from the Author's Note. Yann Martel. 1993. The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. Edinburgh: Canongate. 2004 Ed.
Martel articulates such a lovely concept of writing: the wonderment of the form, and the necessity and compulsion to develop in it.
As soon as I get a break from script-writing, I'm going to devour this little book and hopefully it will provide plenty of fodder for blog posts, so keep an eye out.