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David Almond
Nov 2005
Since Counting Stars (a short story collection that can be viewed as a 'Dubliners' of the North-East), David Almond's fiction has been set in the time of his own childhood, growing directly out of experiences he had as a young boy. In some ways there is a marked difference between this latest novel and early books like Skellig and Kit's WIlderness. But the similarities are there too: the immaculate writing; the strange, mysterious individual, possessor of special powers, at the fulcrum of the story; the sense of menace; the intervening magic.

It did seem (I'm of the same generation as Almond) that there were a greater number of deranged, demented and scarifying individuals at large in the community in the late 1950s and early 1960s. More than one character in this book would, in a contemporary novel, have been counselled or (more likely) drugged into comparative quietude. This, coupled with the freedom that children had to wander around from dawn till dusk without parental paranoia (it really was like that then) makes it the perfect period to write about.

Almond's fiction is special because it has a religious or spiritual layer. The main characters in this book are altar boys who, with typical adolescent mundanity, view their duties (at weddings and funerals) in the same regard as waiters serving at table, with an eye on the best tip. The damaged character is one who has been rejected by the Roman Catholic seminary, and yet, moulding figures out of clay, seems to have the divine power of investing the inanimate with life.

Like all great books, Clay contains tragedy, hope and a sense of right (or down-to-earth goodness) being wronged. It's a reminder, if reminder is needed, that David Almond is the very best author at work in the field of YA fiction in the UK.

This is the first title on ACHUKAREVIEWS to be awarded five GOLD achukachiks.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on November 29, 2005 9:34 PM.

Secret Scribbled Notebooks was the previous entry in this blog.

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