Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fiction Story - A First Attempt

After having traveled a day's journey by coach from Moscow, my wife Belle, and I finally arrived Suzdal, where we stayed overnight at an inn. The next morning after breakfast, we began our journey uphill to where our friends live.

The walk took two hours before we were near our destination. The small village town was covered entirely by snow, and the rooftops of the residential houses were totally white. All the surrounding trees were barren and without leaves. Belle and I hurried towards the houses on the snow-covered pathway as it was extremely cold even with heavy winter clothing. It was an hour past noon and the air was pleasantly sweet as the breeze gently blew at our faces. Belle and I were feeling excited, as we have been looking forward to meeting our friends for tea.

A short distance before we reach our friend's house, we heard the sound of tinkling bells and steps of some animals rushing towards the pathway, from a side road hidden from our view. Belle and I froze for a moment, and before I knew what I was doing, I have pushed Belle away from the pathway to avoid direct confrontation from whatever was coming.

A three-horse troika carriage suddenly appeared and came rushing towards me, and in that moment of shock, my mind flashed back memories of my past, then blank. I was no longer conscious.

"Honey, are you alright?" I heard my wife cried in my sub-consciousness.

"Adam, can you hear me?" a familiar voice spoke.

I tried moving my body, but was unable to. Then I tried to open my eyes, but it stayed shut.

"Adam, wake up! You've been unconscious for a week and your wife needs you," the familiar voice continued.

In my sub-consciousness, I knew I must wake up, because it hurts me to know my wife is hurting. I struggled and prayed, and in the next few moments, I felt my eyes blinked.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nice Work - A Critical Book Review

The book being reviewed for this exercise is Nice Work, by David Lodge (1998). Most of you would have read it as part of the text prescribed by Monash for one of the units.

Nice Work essentially uses a comparison of the different thinking in academia and the industry to connect and form a balance perception of what is ideal and what is the ‘real’ world as a response to the outside world in contemporary life and society.

The purpose of Lodge’s writing in his book appears to advocate two points: the academia’s ability over industry expertise, and the subjection of man to woman. The book suggests that knowledge of businesses is not enough, and working smart is better. This may be seen in the fact that the lead male character in the book, Victor Wilcox, eventually has to ‘bow’ to Robyn for money in order to startup a new business and to keep his family alive.

This connotation in the theme is what I dislike about the book. It portrays the man as easily subdued by the opposite sex because of sensual desires. Victor is seen almost begging to be accepted by Robyn who is the ‘third’ party breaking up his family. Even though the story ends with Victor patching up with his wife, it essentially implies that Robyn still holds the key to his life (Lodge 1988:380).

‘I’m afraid I’ve been a bit foolish.’

‘I’ve been living in a dream. This business has woken me up. I must have been out of my mind, imagining you would see anything in a middle-aged dwarf engineer.’

‘You’re a very special person, Robyn,’ Victor says solemnly. ‘One day you’ll meet a man who deserves to marry you.’

The above quotes demean man in general, and as a theme of the story, this is disconcerting because it ‘attacks’ not only character, but also a particular gender. To be fair however, it must be said that the book is quite successful in the use of language, narrative structure and style, as it is highly readable and without complexity. The characters portrayed of the other supporting people in the story are believable, with some not at all likeable, such as, Charles and Brian Everthorpe.

From the way the narrative has been structured in Nice Work, together with the simple language and alluring easy-to-read style, David Lodge has successfully given sufficient reasons why readers will want to read his work, demonstrating the many facets of good writing, which include a believable plot, a sense of humour and irony, and the identification with ‘real’ characters in the academia and industry.


Lodge, D (1988), Nice Work. London: Penguin Books.