by Petamber Persaud
‘Short and Sweet’, a collection of twenty-five short stories and fables, written by Robert ‘Bobby’ Fernandes and published by Hansib, UK, 2008, chronicles a way of life that is unmistakably Guyanese; many of the stories were taken from ‘actual life experiences’ of the author and many of the main characters remain ‘close friends’ of his to this day.
Although the pieces are short (and sweet) there is no rush by the writer. Fernandes showed he has given considerable thought and has taken considerable time to compose the short stories, paying attention to the basics – plot, setting, tone and characterisation.
His description (he is Guyana’s foremost photographer) of situations is not static as in ‘Mavis and Macaw’ he wrote that Mavis ‘appeared to be an enormous G.D.F. duffle bag with a head on it…who was getting larger as she came towards them’.
And he creates memorable characters as in the same story, the man, called Macaw, ‘was badly parrot-toed and leaned forward when he walked, as if he didn’t want his tail to touch the ground’.
Other memorable characters include Leroy Chance in ‘Mashramani Technology’, Shaka Jones in ‘The Bogus Rastafarian’ and Amelia Bancroft in ‘Armed and Dangerous’.
‘The Short Story Writer’, the sixth piece in the book, is instructive and a clever literary device used by Fernandes to connect to the reader.
This story pulls out all the stops – gaining the empathy of readers by carefully plotting the dreams, ambitions and challenges of the aspiring writer. In this story as in many others, there is a seesaw tension released by good dosages of humour.
Humour (and empathy) is the main diet of this book from the interior of Guyana in ‘Mavis and Macaw’ and ‘The Old Hunter’ to the city streets of Georgetown in ‘Mashramani Technology’ and ‘The Bogus Rastafarian’.
There are other admirable qualities of writing in this collection as seen in the selection of names for characters – real and pseudonym, and especially for the vocation of the characters: a stall holder is christened ‘a desk worker outdoors’, a travelling salesman is an ‘agent of continuous commerce’. This sort of foreshadowing worked well for this collection because it expanded the suspense.
‘Short and Sweet’ is Fernandes’ first book of fiction with indications that he is now equipped to embark on another such adventure.
Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email: [email protected]
• Look out for details regarding the production of THE GUYANA ANNUAL 2008-2009; this special souvenir edition will mark Edgar Mittelholzer’s 100th birth anniversary. We are inviting short articles, reminiscences and titbits to this effect.
We are also inviting entries for the following competitions: Open Short Story, Open Poetry, Youth Short Story, Youth Poetry, Henry Josiah Writing Story for Children, Rajkumari Singh Writing Poetry for Children, Martin Carter Essay Prize and Egbert Martin Poetry Prize. Closing date for submissions is Friday October 24, 2008.
• Please contact me on how to acquire books launched during Carifesta X including MOLLY AND THE MUSLIM STICK by David Dabydeen, SELECTED POEMS by Ian McDonald, THE BALGOBIN SAGA by Petamber Persaud.
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