Colin Newcombe: 13 Fragments

review blitzedB x1 cong

Newcombe is a local author who has produced a book that should be handed out to anyone thinking of descriptive writing and self-publishing.

So with some joy we can say first what it isn’t: it’s not badly proofed, badly written or short of ideas, and Newcombe has clearly lavished a lot of attention on both the writing and the production. As Ozymandias, King of Kings, nearly said: “Look on my works, ye grammatically feeble self-publishers, and weep.”

It is a single novel to the extent that the same characters appear repeatedly but, then again, it’s as much a collection of short stories.

We don’t want to give any spoilers away, but the book starts with the main character lying badly injured in the road after a motorbike crash (it seems to be a road we know well, too, the post-M50 road down to Wales through Monmouth). His life flashes before him, or at least a series of incidents from that life.

Each of the chapters is a short story on different incidents in the narrator’s life, with a different beat and style to each section. The stories concern several threads of the writer’s life, which are mostly returned to later in the book: a visit to the TT races, a couple of chapters about his time with a girl he loves, his work as a teacher and a spell in Algeria in the early 60s after the revolution.

The book is interesting, and each tale draws in the reader. We know Colin was a teacher, but we doubt he’s old enough to have been in Algeria in the early 60s, so we guess he mixes fiction with some real-life tales. We found the teaching sections the most enjoyable, perhaps proof that you should write about what you know, and the Algerian sections the least. The sections with his lover in are as much memories of an England gone as part of anyone’s life.

It’s full of wise ideas about life, relationships and motorbikes, too.

A good present for anyone who is into creative writing and thoughtful books. We’ll try and get some copies in the Chronicle Office to sell, but it is on Amazon: £7.99 in physical form and free on Kindle.

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