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Fiction set in Louisiana (“Sketcher is so good”)

7th October 2014

Sketcher by Roland Watson-Grant, fiction set in LOUISIANA;

Because of numerous health issues and long-hour work reasons, it took me longer to write this review as fast after I read the book as I’d wished… But one thing I will say: Sketcher is so good, and Roland Watson-Grant has such an amazing gift for words, that even during the moments when I was lying in bed coughing my lungs out, a great deal of my thoughts were occupied in finding the right words to express my absolute satisfaction with this book.

1846883121.01.ZTZZZZZZThis is a story with so many levels and sides, it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. I picked it up to get out of my comfort zone (young boy growing up in a swamp in the eighties, you can imagine the sort of language used, hehe, which is not precisely bad, but it does involve a lot of bodily fluids and physical actions that I don’t necessarily care for); and I was also drawn to it because of the dream-like quality that the book seemed filled with: a mix of Voodoo, Creole and Taino magic and tradition, all brightly fulfilling even in the darkness and damp of the run-down swamp shack. I found the magic, all right, but I also found that it was incredibly easy to fall in love with Skid’s language and motivation, and to acquire a great empathy for his dreams, laughs, suffering, and his remarkable caring nature.

Skid Beaumont is wonderful in every sense, not to say the least of his brothers, his mom, his family friends and one or two or more of the supporting cast. Valerie Beaumont is the New Orleans witch for excellence, all strong and deep and willful, as well as caring and nurturing when it comes to her family, whether her magic is real or not (I will let you find that out for yourselves).

Frico Beaumont, on the other hand, is just as magnificent but draws chills page after page, and makes you wonder what his intentions truly are… and will often make you read “just one more chapter” before you turn off the light! Tony shows us that being a nerd in the eighties was the way to go: to get the best job, the best girlfriend, good-looking clothes and a nice car… He used his brains to get the advantage, and worked hard to define that part of him as the strong element. This is not really a spoiler, because it’s easy to see this about him since the first time he opens his mouth, so I’m writing it here to stress what a good example of life this character turned out to be!

This book also teaches us that bullying started by kids who felt inferior because they had asthma or had to wear weird braces and started hurting people as a defense mechanism (although it might not have been always the case). Also that fracking was wildly known back then and still people did not do anything about it (which answers the question as to why the world is in such as state as it is today). And it also brings about that little thing that even today people have a hard time handling: racism… In the book, it’s easy for the Taino-American boys to make friends with other boys from the area, and them and their girlfriends tend to be multicoloured, in fact, but there is always that little line that reminds us how hard it was for a racially mixed kid from the swamplands of New Orleans to get ahead (again, Tony shows us that it is in fact possible to get ahead, and he delivers!).

The setting is more than enjoyable, and you can almost feel that spicy wind as you turn the pages, or the far-off chanting of passers-by as they cross the river… Like I said, magical and dream-like, profound and entrancing!

Warning: it also is a very efficient laugh-out-loud book, so be prepared to get some glances if you’re reading it on the train or at a queue. If you don’t care about such looks, then happy reading my friend!

I will definitely recommend this book to all, and the more kicks you get out of figuring out the world through a child’s and teenager’s eyes, the better!

And major kudos to Roland Watson-Grant!

Enjoy! Sandra for the TripFiction Team.

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