The secret maker of the world – stories by Abbas El-Zein
UQP, 2014. ISBN 9780702250071.
(Age: Yr 11-Yr 12, Adult) Recommended. I resisted this collection of adult short stories at first and then I read several stories in rapid succession. I found the stories elegant but did not feel engaged. The stories while diverse featured a similar theme a man who unknowingly awaits his fate and whose self absorption has stood in his way of perceiving the truths around him. I found the stories to be packed with beautiful lines but at times wished the writer had ‘killed his darlings’ more often.
However the memory of the stories linger and play with my mind and two in particular have subsequently gripped my imagination. Red carpet is the story of a corrupt politician, as he waits in his office for his aide, mulling over his rise and rise, and preparing for the speech that will define his success. He is unaware that in the ten minute walk to deliver his speech his life will unravel. The killer blow lays in the last line.
Birds eye tells the story of the wise scholar who is oblivious to the undercurrents around him and who procrastinates and makes increasingly foolish choices as the medieval city Merv is about to be conquered and sacked. In a preface it is explained that this story is based on historical events and figures.
There is a vivid imagination and the stories leap across time, cultures and continents. I feel it will enhance any collections of short stories gathered for Years 11 and 12.