Sunday, 17 July 2011

Books I Have Read -Antonis S and the Mystery of Theodoe Guzman

Learning from other writers is something I am always attempting to do. I read every night. It gives my mind something else to think of. I have just finished reading
Odo Hirsch

This is the first one that he wrote in 1997. In 1998 it was short listed for the 1998 National Children's Literature Award at the Festival Awards for Literature, was an Honour Book in the 1998 Children's Book Council Book of the Year - Younger Readers Awards and won the inaugural Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature in the 1999 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.
He was born in Australia were he studied medicine and worked as a doctor. He now lives in London.

I collect Odo Hirsch books and found the beginning of this story was not written in the same style as the other books I have of his work. By the time I got through half of the book I could see his style come out in his work and by the end of it I was really pleased I had found the book at the recent Life Line Bookfest held on the Gold Coast. 

The book is about a young boy (Antonia S) obsessed with finding out why an old man (Mr Guzman) in an apartment of The Duke's House (were they and other people live) why he hardly ever comes out of his apartment. When he does it is not for long.
Through various means and hows he finds out that the old man was a very famous actor.
Antonio S decides to put on a play. It eventually has the desired effect and he meets this old man and learns from him what it is to be an actor.

The last part of this book is very stirring. I could 'feel' the sense of loss for the actor and sense of wonder for the boy.

When it comes to writing. There is a section in the book that I feel every writer could use to help to understand their characters.

(Mr Guzman speaking) 'The very first day I spoke to you, Antonio. You asked me a question. You asked whether I knew the words of every character I had played. Do you remember? What did I say?'
     Antonio thought. 'You said all you had to do was think about what they were like.'
     'Yes. All you have to do is to remember who is the character that you are playing. If you know what he is like, what he is really like, if you have that in your head, the words will come.'
     'Is that all?'
     'Is that all? Isn't that enough?' Mr Guzman laughed. He stood up. 'It is more than it sounds. Wait here, Antonio.'
     Mr Guzman walked slowly out of the room. When he came back, he was carrying the carved figure of Paul Snee in his hand. He put it on the table beside the sketch pad and sat down again.
     'Look at him, Antonio.'
     Antonio looked. Paul Snee gazed angrily back.
     'Think of who he is. What he feels, what he thinks, what he sees. He sees you! He is looking at you. Now see yourself, Antonio, through his eyes.'
     Antonio glanced sharply at Mr Guzman. Mr Guzman nodded.
     'You are now a boy who is trying to tell jokes and can't remember them. You see another boy looking at you. You are frustrated. You are angry. Can you feel it?' Antonio stared at Paul Snee's figure, trying to feel his anger.
     'Forget the words, understand the character. When you come back to the theatre, you will see the figures on the stage. Do not simply look at them. Use them. They can help you. Put yourself inside them and look out. Feel the wood of the stage under your feet, The stage is now your world. The figures are your fellows. You walk amongst them.' Mr Guzman paused. (end of passage)

Didn't I tell you it was something worth reading, something worth knowing.
Antonio S and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman written by Odo Hirsch and published by Allen & Unwin.

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