Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sun review Dark City 2

Bet you've never seen me update so much before, eh? I expected this review to appear at the end of the month actually. And I would have totally missed it if not for my colleague who asked me, "Wah, you got new book out already ah?"

Here is a review from yesterday's Sun newspaper:

Review by N. Shashi Kala

"In this sequel to the twisty, terror ride that was the original Dark City, 17 disturbing new tales of murder and debauchery, some of which strike quite close to home, are revealed.

From the claustrophobic tomb of Strong Chemistry, the perils of banking (All in a Day's Work), to the ultimate punishment for gamblers (The Penalty) and the calculated payback for murder (Zero Sum), 15 writers (including the Sun's very own Bissme S.) flex their creative storytelling abilities to tease and tantalise the reader.

My favourite story in the collection is Till Death (Lou Joon Yee), which is black humour at its best when a married couple's fantasy of killing one another takes an unusual twist. On another level, the story also shows the damage a poisonous atmosphere at home can wreak on its inhabitants.

A more lyrical piece is Like Lingering Leaves: My Mother (Gwen Fontenoy) which has a daughter returning after a six-month absence to find her mother and home gone back to nature.

Though mostly enjoyable, the overall quality of the stories is not as good as in the first book, which was a little more inventive in terms of plot and twists. With few exceptions, most of the stories in Dark City 2 follow a predictable pattern, and one or two even run out of steam before the end (Tunku Halim's Hawker Man, in particular, is a misfire.)

Still, Dark City 2 proves that there are good Malaysian short-story writers out there with an eye for detail and a love of the macabre."

My comments:
1. OK guys, a mostly positive review! Congrats to Lou Joon Yee for charming so many people with her lovely story. If you missed how she came to write it, please scroll down to 'Interview with Argus Lou'.

2. Bearing in mind I also included Gwen Fontenoy's poetic Like Lingering Leaves because it is a surrealistic fantasy and I wanted a bit of variety in the book.

3. And everyone, always remember a review is just one person's opinion. Goodness knows I've been the target of so many reviews, probably the most of any Malaysian writer, and I've learned to accept everything with grace, good or bad. It doesn't mean if one person doesn't like your story, everyone else won't either. (And vice versa).

4. Please hurl bouquets and brickbats at the Sun if you agree/disagree with the review (!)

5. Okay, we as short story writers need to be more inventive with our plotting and twists in general. I'm coming to that in a later post on Drama 101 - secrets I have learned about plotting twists (see first section below).


Argus Lou said...

Wow, that was quick! Didn't expect it so soon either. A big 'thank you' to Shashi.

Yes, you're right, Xeus; there will be readers who won't like 'Till Death' even though the reviewer says she enjoyed it.

Watching the varied responses to 'Dark City' taught us a lot.

Xeus said...

So far everyone I know likes Till Death, Argus! It was a great story with a great twist.