The Wall

We sprint for the ball, shoulder to shoulder, our backpacks thumping from side to side.

How children learn that the enemy is still human and that the ones allied to you can be the enemies. With Palestina versus Israel on the background.

As the title says, the story is a modern fable. Tunnels to another world, discovering that things you knew aren’t really what they are. An unlikely friendship and an evil stepfather. It’s written in a light, airy way that gives room for the story to put its weight on the reader’s shoulders. Because even though this is fiction (the author underlines that fact in the acknowledgements), this could well be happening on any side of the Wall down there in the Middle East.

I don’t know if The Wall: a modern fable will suddenly change someone’s mind on the subject, but it’s very successful in showing the hopelessness of it all. How human everyone involved is, even though it would be easier to view one side as the monsters and the other as the victims. It might leave the reader with a slightly bitter feeling: how can things down there ever change when confrontation is the only way to change minds? But it also shows that there are other kinds of confrontation than violent ones, and maybe that’s the one part that might lead to a happy ending.

The Wall: a modern fable, William Sutcliffe, Bloomsbury 2013

Whatever Makes You Happy

‘What’s happened?’

Whatever Makes You Happy made me very curious about the author, because he spouts a lot of ideas that felt a bit outdated, not female-friendly nor male-friendly. And all that in a book that got a place in my library’s Humor category!

The novel tells the stories off Matt, Daniel and Paul and their mothers. The three men are thirty-somethings and their mothers are Very Disappointed with the lives of their sons. And because they are their mothers, their creators and eternal supporters, they decide to live in their son’s houses for a week to fix things. Because by now they should be married and have created offspring because the mothers need to be grandmothers, it’s what they’re here for.
Surprisingly, none of the men tell their mothers to sod off, but allow them to intervene. Of course some life lessons pass, but the bombardment of clichés override every situation. The date-savvy guy thinks that when a woman says no, she just wants to have the man put more effort into it. The grandchildren-crazy mother effectively stalks a couple because she just can’t help herself, she was born for being a grandmother. And the child being a girl, she can only buy pink stuff.

It goes on like that, making Whatever Makes You Happy more a risen-eyebrow-worthy essay of examples in old-fashioned and guy/girl-mag thinking than a laugh about mother-son relationships. And that’s a bit of a shame, because the author created several nice characters. They deserved more.

Whatever Makes You Happy, William Sutcliffe, Bloomsbury 2008