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Monday, 19 September 2011

Mementoes of Mai, by Helmy Kusuma, Reviewed.


Written by a writer for whom English is not his first language, this novelette reads rather like a piece of autobiography. Although Helmy is writing in a language which is not his native tongue, he has a better grasp of idiom, grammar, spelling and sentence structure than a lot of indie authors who claim English as their mother tongue. That's not to say there are no errors; there are slips in tense, structure and word order. There are occasional odd characters (textual rather than fictional) scattered amongst the words, suggesting that the conversion from a PC document to the format needed for an ebook has not been totally successful. But I'm nit-picking. The story has a charm and innocence about it that drove me to finish the book in spite of its slight deficiencies. It is a coming of age tale, a story of personal enlightenment and epiphany.
Some of the language borders on the poetic and Helmy paints word pictures that are both evocative and instructive. I feel I now know a great deal more about his homeland and those places he visits in the pursuance of his dream, and, more importantly, my wish to visit these places has grown stronger.
The philosophical asides chime well with the narrative and rarely come across as author intrusion, since they seem to come naturally from the mouth of the viewpoint narrator.
I enjoyed this story. It is a good book in search of an English speaking editor to make it into a very good book. But, even as it stands, I can recommend it as a gentle and feelgood read.

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