This review is from: Special Relationships: Poems and Stories by Chris Fogg (Paperback)
The title perfectly conveys the content of this well structured and thought provoking book. Chris Fogg is both a natural and accomplished storyteller and takes us on a journey from his early childhood with a rich mixture of stories and well handled verse. For me it is not a book to read from cover to cover at one sitting but to dip in to and savour the individual elements that piece together and provide a comprehensive picture of the author's life and travel experiences. His early childhood contains a wealth of references that will be all too familiar to his contemporaries, myself included and intriguing to younger readers with its portrayals of an era of simplicity, pleasure and joy that doesn't depend on speed and technology but owes a great deal to imagination and innocence. In many ways I found myself wishing we could go back to those times but life moves on and Chris's recollections have to suffice.
As the chapters progress, we move to more current times in Mali, India and America where the modern age hasn't always touched many of the people that Chris encounters on his journey. I found a mixture of fascination and pathos in many of the accounts and Chris doesn't shrink from recounting the deprivation and poverty as it still exists. The stark contrast is never more apparent than between "Sophie and Gita" where at face value one has nothing and the other has everything. But at another level I found myself questioning who was really the richer of the two?
Before we get too sanguine, we are suddenly back in the world of Bambi; The Wizard of Oz, Thunderbirds, Supercar and Stingray and my own personal favourites, The Beatles whose clever lyrics pop up from time to time in the book and are slotted seamlessly into the verse. For those who aren't familiar with them the experience may be a little more superficial but still capable of being enjoyed at face value. I found myself wondering whether the author was parodying John Lennon while reading "No more Heroes" a clever piece that if not based on Lennon would do credit to Spike Milligan.
Overall this is a book equally at home on the coffee or bedside table or on a trans-atlantic flight. It sits comfortably alongside a number of books I own and regularly retrieve to enjoy all over again. It would be nice to think that this is just the first of a number of books that the author undoubtedly has in him. Add it to your wish list for Christmas, Birthday or for sheer personal indulgence.
And if you can recognise the characters on the front cover it should be in your collection. If you can also recall the names of the actors, well so can I so don't get too smug!
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