Reviewed by Nigel Bird
Warmed and Bound is prefaced by the beautiful line ‘What began as a love letter.’
That’s a sentiment that can be seen in ‘Bruised Flesh’ by Craig Wallwork.
In the opening paragraph of this story, we’re introduced to Jonah, proud owner of a tricycle. We also realise that, as his father loosens the nuts on the front wheel, his life isn’t simply ordinary.
As I read on, I was reminded that by focusing on small details, much larger issues can be illuminated, and this one certainly covers a wide scope.
What we come to realise as things unfold is that his father is a victim of a society based upon accumulation of wealth and celebrity, driven by the warped media of our day. As is often the case within families, the difficulties of the parents will become the problem of the children and there lies Jonah’s rub.
The father, loosening those nuts, has had a brilliant, misguided, idea.
By filming amusing accidents and mishaps, he can sell video clips to the TV. They’ll show them and the audience will get their kicks. When the wheel of the tricycle comes loose, Jonah falls and is injured, but his pain will be the cause of much hilarity across the nation.
Having made money on a few occasions, Jonah and his father become professionals in the tradition of clowns or freaks, peddling their films to companies who never seem to tire of the game.
It’s not that long before social services become involved. This, perhaps, is another shining spotlight, focussing upon the way the media jumps upon news items and creates knee jerk reactions in difficult and complex circumstances.
When his father ends up in a coma following one particularly crazy stunt, it appears that Jonah’s relationship with him is different than the one expected, as the story skirts round the edges of the nature of love in abusive relationships.
The writer keeps an even tone throughout, a gentle pace which maintained my curiosity. There’s a low level of humour that I found appealing. He shifts from past to present fairly smoothly to show how one has led to the other.
It’s a wonderful idea that is well written. I did leave with the opinion that this was finished one edit too soon, that by shedding one more layer of skin the story could have been elevated from good to very good.
Even so, this comes from a writer who will grow into his voice and is well worth looking out for.