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March 01 , 2010

Just a Bit Touched

Tales of Perspective


The title for this volume was suggested by a remark of the narrator in the opening paragraph of the first story, 'The Arcadian': "They're just a bit touched, bonkers-like."

While the characters might appear 'a bit touched,' each tale is touched by its own perspective, since each reflects the point of view of its unique narrator. So often the England of the Thirties or Forties is seen through the eyes of a child so that, Dickens-like, the foibles and characteristics of the adult world appear larger than life. These early stories are interesting, too, for the historical perspective they give us — of an Andy Capp industrial society long since gone. There are other stories written from the perspective of the Fifties: the two stories dealing with motor cars ('The Efelant' and 'Egging-on') add a more amusing perspective — of a time when petrol was dear and neighbours more than a bit touched by curiosity! The stories written in Africa with its latent social change — 'Victims,' for instance — add a more violent perspective, though hilarity is introduced by the expatriot (in 'It Was A Very Sad Case') who seems more than a bit touched by his paranoia.

The author has written a quartette of stories, the other three titles of the quartette being News from Parched Mountain: Tales from the Karoo in the new South Africa, Flakes of Dark and Light: Tales From Southern Africa and Elsewhere; and Pivot of Violence: Tales from the new South Africa. All make a very vivid and lasting impression.

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