One Million Tiny Plays About Britain Hardcover – 2 Mar 2009
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`Taylor captures those delicious moments when we catch morsels of other people's conversation and can't help but be momentarily drawn in ... Like the best comedy sketches ... Taylors plays are acutely observed, exquisitely crafted tragicomedies, rooted in bitter or absurd truths ... They take all of one minute to read, but will make you think for a great deal longer'
-- Sunday Telegraph
A Wonder Woman and bride-to-be finds herself worse for wear at the end of a hen night; a funeral director's love of Manchester United proves unhelpful when talking to the bereaved; two overly-vigilant mothers wrestle with their paranoia in the queue for Santa's Grotto; a widow recounts her disastrous return to the world of dating and a father realises that his son is growing away from him as he helps him tie his football boots. In these snippets of overheard conversations from across the length and breadth of the country, Craig Taylor captures the state we're in with humour and pathos and perfect timing. Laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes heartbreakingly moving, these tiny plays in which every one of us could have a starring role are little windows into other people's lives that reveal the triumphs, disasters, prejudices, horrors and joys of twenty-first-century life. Hugely entertaining and utterly addictive, this is book that can be dipped into or feasted upon in one sitting. It will change the way you listen to the world around you, and train journeys will never be the same again.See all Product description
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Each of the 94 playlets are numbered, with a short description, and this rather concise introduction works surprisingly well, as the reader launches straight into the midst of the dialogue and discover what the issue is. It could be an insight into the social mores, like the two elderly women who fight to pay for tea at a cafe in Lichfield, till the politeness turns into something of a power struggle.
In another snippet, a young man tries to sell his copy of a Bob Dylan album at a used record shop in Derby, and unwittingly upsets the guy behind the counter,a serious music aficionado who is shocked with his lackadaisal attitude to what he obviously esteems as high art. However, the young man fails to see what the fuss is about:
Tim: Not a big fan of him.
Bill: 'Him'? Sort of like saying you're not a fan of breathing.
Tim: I never heard anything by Breathing.
A businessman, Alan, laments about his foreign domestic help to his friend Gordon. When he refers to her as Latvia, Gordon is surprised, and Alan explains: "I just think it's disrespectful when you don't know how to say someone's name properly. So this works."
In capturing what people say in a direct manner, Taylor manages to reveal how sometimes we say more than we know, and are none the wiser for how transparent and contradictory we are. The plays work because they make an acute observation of how people talk but fail to communicate, or even if they do, they listen only to what they want to, filtering out the rest.
You might hear the same sort of conversations in your daily life and the author has a gift for making them come alive so that you can imagine them actually taking place and almost hear the dialogue. I found this book compulsive reading and had to go on to the next one even though I kept thinking I'd save some for later. It is a good book to dip into because each play is complete in itself and would be an idea book to read during a daily commute.
If you're looking for a Crime Thriller novel however, try this one:
It certainly gave me plenty and was very entertaining.
With a minimalistic but imaginative setting you could portray a number of these slices of life in quick succession.
I didn't laugh out loud but definately smirked in recognition of the 'Britishness' that it encaptured.
Thoughtful and poignant, the book is easily dipped into and enjoyed, even if you don't want to produce anything theatrical.