Thanks to Newbooks magazine who kindly sent me this Arc (Advanced Reading Copy) of Sketcher asking me to concentrate on my impressions of the book as opposed to the storyline.
SKETCHER by ROLAND WATSON-GRANT.
Nine-year-old 'Skid' Beaumont's family is stuck in the mud. Following his father's decision to relocate and build a new home, based on a drunken vision that New Orleans would rapidly expand eastwards into the wetlands as a result of the Seventies oil boom, Skid and his brothers grow up in a swampy area of Louisiana.
But the constructions stop short, the dream fizzles out, and the Beaumonts find themselves sinking in a soggy corner of 1980'S Cold War America. As things on the home front get more complicated, Skid learns of his mother's alleged magic powers and vaguely remembers some eerie stories surrounding his elder brother Frico.
....... Outer back copy.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Well to begin with, lemme tell you, my pops is the reason we grew up in that swamp.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 90): ...... but then three weeks ago, he came into the swamp and bought a kid goat off me sayin he wanted to try 'something different' for Thanksgivin'. Now, I sold him the goat, but goats don't go 'gobble-gobble', so I knowed somethin' was up.
MY THOUGHTS: Now a novel of some 280 or so pages, the fact that Sketcher was originally a short story (it won the Lightship Short Story Competition) explains a lot.
Difficult to follow at first, the fact that much of the narrative was written in the local vernacular took some time to adjust to but even more confounding was the fact that the novel just didn't flow as well as it might.
OK, so there was an on-going theme of sorts but Sketcher felt more like a collection of anecdotes, like a set of stories that had been put together as a serialisation in a magazine or newspaper.
Narrated by the supposedly adolescent Skid between the ages of nine ('almost ten') and sixteen (his use of words suggested someone much older), there really wasn't much of a feel with regard to the time-frame of the novel, indeed it felt like the events took places over a matter of perhaps months rather than years.
Largely disappointing, I was saddened that more wasn't made of mother, Moms, or brother, Frico/Sketcher's supposed magical abilities and that whilst a strong voice was given to many of the characters there were plenty of others who appeared somewhat superfluous to the story.
Disclaimer #1:Removal of any part of this post without my express consent is considered copyright infringement. This post was created by and for Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper. If you are reading this post on any other site please contact the original blog owner/reviewer.
DISCLAIMER#2: An Advanced Reading Copy (Sketcher will not be published May 23rd 2013) read and reviewed on behalf of NEWBOOKS magazine. I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.