Thursday 15 November 2012

SHORTS ON SHORTS - 'Letter for Carlos' by Michael Morpurgo

Wow, I've managed to keep this up for three days in a row. I don't normally manage this level of blogging commitment. Yay for me. Anyway, today's short story is Letter for Carlos by Michael Morpurgo. This story is featured on the Guardian website as part of there week-long feature for National Short Story Week. It's a bit like my week-long feature for National Short Story Week. But not as good.


Well, I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that I haven't read any of Michael Morpurgo's novels. I have them there, sitting on the Kindle, and I've been toying with the idea of reading Private Peaceful fairly soon (which may or may not have something to do with this), but it hasn't quite happened for me yet. This story originally featured in his anthology Singing for Mrs Pettigrew: A Storymaker's Journey, but you can access it here. And instead of me relaying more background information about it, have a read of this interview where he explains the inspiration behind the tale. And a very interesting read it is too.

Singing For Mrs Pettigrew, A Story Maker's JourneyIn a nutshell...

On his tenth birthday, Carlos is given a bike and a letter from his long-absent father.

My favourite quote...

When I looked down upon you that last time, cradled in your mother's arms, I remember I tried to picture you as a grown boy. I couldn't then and I still can't. For me you are that sleeping child, yawning toothlessly, fists clenched, frowning through your milk-soaked dreams.

Bits and pieces I'll take away...

This is a really interesting take on a very big subject, but I'm guessing that Mr. Morpurgo is rather experienced in writing captivating tales on the subject of warfare for a younger audience. It's a wise and  rather moving account the the reality of war from a disillusioned young man, but I just felt there was something missing  - maybe flipping back to Carlos's perspective would have help the story feel a bit more complete for me. But otherwise, this was a brilliant read, and also suitable for slightly younger readers. You might have already guessed from the title, but a large section of this takes the form of a letter. This is of interest to me personally, as the story I am working on a the moment takes the form of a letter, so thank you Michael Morpurgo, not only have you written a powerful story, but you have also given me a mini-creative-writing tutorial.

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