Title: William Ottoway's Utopia and other stories
Author: Christopher Griffith
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Fiction
‘Come, Manou, this is superstitious clap.’ So says William Ottoway to his island’s priest, for the modern world has surely extinguished any notion of the supernatural? But some who have lived before our technological revolution hold grave concerns about this new reality which has all but supplanted the numinous element of human existence. Despite warning from his best friend’s mother against attempting to replicate paradise, William puts faith alone in idealism to create a utopian society in the tropics. All seems well, until his serpent brother appears with temptation… William Ottoway’s Utopia concerns the dream of a man who seeks to escape stresses of everyday life for promised ease in this world’s tropics; to his dismay, he is unable to flee influence of the one appliance which has arguably shaped all our experience in the last half century, the humble television set! William is a good man, but will he be ravaged and ruined by his brother Tom who brings discord and disharmony to his island paradise? Rick With A (Bipolar) View details the experience of a young man suffering from bipolar disorder who wants to be a professional DJ. Unsure whether or not the repetitive beats of electronic music and his obsession with trance and techno may be the cause of his illness, he nevertheless accepts offer of a Friday night gig and 'takes the roof off' the nightclub, coming down back at home in glow and reflection of his achievement. If all this sounds too intense then do please head over to Break Out the Bubbly!!, a comic piece set in a supermarket whose Manager is acting in very strange manner indeed. The initial boredom felt by our hero Emily is quickly shattered by Carol’s arrival and subsequent farce as she seems intent on closing the shop during opening hours to conduct inquisitions in the boardroom! The champagne keeps going missing, you see, and she needs to find the culprit. Is he, or she, a little closer to home than everyone thinks? Fantasy for the next story, Saman’s Revenge, in which our titular hero is seriously miffed with the Earth-goddess Thera; she’s punished him an aeon ago for misdemeanour which he firmly believes really wasn’t his fault at all. Anyway, when you’re immortal and old as the hills themselves it doesn’t bother you too much to wait a few millennia before exacting your revenge on modern day teenagers Jack, Roxie, her boyfriend Mark and his brother Norman. But what is the young people’s relation to Thera, and temple ruins on top of the village hill, Shadyridge? Which leaves Young Shakespeare, my imaginative retelling of some of Will’s ‘lost years’ when he reached London; after all, who wouldn’t want to fall in love with Anne, listen in awe to Sir Walter Raleigh’s perorations on, well who knows, meet his future friend and rival Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, then cogitate at length upon the Reformation against whose profound change the budding writer begins to conclude he might wish to work?
Every story, no matter its format, is birthed and goes through growing pains before it is unleashed into the world. Christopher Griffith freely admits these short stories are a combination of novels, poetry, scripts, and plays. What an imaginative concept. In William Ottoway's Utopia, a man dreams to escape the stresses of life and winds up in the tropics. But William's brother is also there along with the dreaded television. Is it a dream utopia or a nightmare? In Rick With a (Bipolar) View, we read about Rick and his struggle with bipolar disorder as he chases his dream of becoming a pro DJ. In Break Out the Bubbly, we discover the antics of a supermarket manager and the disappearing champagne. In Saman's Revenge, there's a miffed hero set on revenge to a goddess with a group of teenagers caught in the middle... or are they the key? In Young Shakespeare, we follow Will as he navigates London and figures out what to do with his life. Which story will you find most appealing?
William Ottoway's Utopia and Other Stories is an inventive collection of short stories I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Each story included elements of literature, poetry, and plays which made for powerful storytelling. The surprise element as each story unfolded only added to my enjoyment as I read. Never have I experienced multi-formats to tell one story before and it was an intoxicating experience. My favorite story is Young Shakespeare. Christopher Griffith's a gifted writer with a unique flair for the dramatic. He writes in such a way as to plunge the reader into the story, so they're emotionally invested without even realizing it. William Ottoway's Utopia and Other Stories is a feast for readers and one I highly recommend!
My Rating: 5 stars
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Christopher loves television, electronic music, supermarkets, fantasy fiction from The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, and anything Shakespeare. He writes upon these subjects that in study of them he will hopefully interest others, and learn thereby himself! Christopher's author website can be found at: www.williamottowaysutopia.com And his blog is over at: www.christophergrifith50.blogspot.com This latter contains much musing on his own poetry, a sort of bizarre, critical self-examination! Do please contact him should you wish to discuss any aspect of this writing of his which he inspects there.
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Reviewed by: Mrs. N