Clive S. Johnson
Clive Johnson was born in the mid-1950’s in Bradford, in what was then the West Riding of the English county of Yorkshire. Mid-way through the 1970s, he found himself lured away by the bright lights of Manchester to attend Salford University.
In addition to getting a degree in electronics, he also had the good fortune of meeting Maureen (Kit) Medley - subsequently his partner and recent Editor. Manchester retained its lure and has thereafter been his hometown.
Torn between the arts (a natural and easy artist) and the sciences (struggled with maths), youthful rationality favoured science as a living, leaving art as a pastime pleasure. Consequently, after graduation, twenty years were spent implementing technologies for mainframe computer design and manufacture, and being a Group IT Manager for an international print company.
The catalyst of a corporate takeover led to a change of career, and the opportunity to return to the arts. The unearthing of a late seventies manuscript - during loft improvements - resurrected an interest in storytelling, and one thing led to another. A naïve and inexpert seed finally received benefit of mature loam, and from it his first novel - Leiyatel’s Embrace - soon blossomed.
This member has not published any books.
Polly!: a comic novel of hope and blasphemy
on July 22, 2013
A Rationalist’s Latter Day Fable
Life is not going too well for Rod, something his Jewish parents may not have anticipated when they gave him the name Herodotus. Within a short time, a week or so; his wife’s left him, he’s discovered he owes the IRS $8,000 and his bookstore burns down, with him asleep in its above-shop apartment - the point at which the reader joins the story.
Could it get worse? Perhaps so. Maybe a speeding ticket, on his way to stay at his brother’s ranch, might be small fry, but it’s yet another pointer towards disillusionment with life. The heat of the Mojave Desert doesn’t help either, and certainly not when his Toyota suddenly breaks down. Fortunately, it’s just outside the only property for miles around - a large white mansion. Strange? You can say.
There begins a rather unexpected diversion in Rod’s journey through life, one that carries him and the reader into something of a modern-day version of Alice’s Wonderland. No white rabbits, no, but a non-melting snowman on the front lawn marks the start of a series of yet more bizarre events.
The stage is clearly set, the markers in place, the pointers aimed at something beyond a simple tale, much more a fable of sorts. It’s a fable with an intriguing and eminently plausible foundation, one that stretches from human foibles, failings and misunderstandings all the way through gods to the very nature of the universe - and life’s place in it.
Does it work as a fable? In its premise and exposition; eminently so. In fact, it has a surer footing than most traditional fables, for it presents a wholly plausible and hugely down to earth (excuse the pun) explanation for the highly noble conclusion to which it leads.
Here, though, we hit upon a bit of a weakness in an otherwise very well-crafted and engaging book. The story is, as most fables are, a series of situations - small episodes, hard-learned lessons along the way to an ultimate understanding. Perhaps Stephen Goldin intended them to be somewhat opaque, open to interpretation, but I found them too weakly connected.
Maybe I missed a thread of significance in each, maybe it will hit me at some time later, but a day after reading the book I still feel that it lacked cohesion. It seemed that the author planned to carry the reader to a climax, but then somehow failed to keep them in his grasp. It didn’t spoil the reading, no, certainly not, for it kept me turning the pages nonetheless, but it did weaken the book’s lasting effect.
There are perhaps yet more similarities to Lewis Carroll’s adventures of Alice, in that nearly all the characters are quite shallow, more cyphers for the tale’s telling than people with whom the reader is expected to empathise, even the protagonist himself. It does help to make the story otherworldly, though, which I suspect was the author’s intent. The downside is that the reader is less inclined to take Rod’s fate too much to heart. But then, the tale’s riveting enough without it and so well worthy of recommendation.
And does Rod finally find his place in life, does he indeed perhaps see his and our place in the grand scheme of things? Well, as they say, to know yourself is to know your own history, and his parents did name him after an eminent Greek - Herodotus, the Father of History.
on Sep. 23, 2014
‘Lettered’ by M. Matheson is a short story that achieves what all shorts should – a tight and concise plot, supported by just enough character development and scene setting to make it real, believable and hence readily draw the reader in. It’s a tale seen through the eyes of its protagonist, Trish, newly settled in to her small apartment and humdrum life. Through Matheson’s generally good use of allusions and similes, the reader is quickly introduced to Trish’s current circumstances, and without feeling too rushed, some of her salient history.
Matheson does a good job of making Trish believable, and in gaining the reader’s empathy, perhaps the strongest feature of this piece. The plot, although it works well in outline, has one or two slight weaknesses that could easily be remedied, one in particular that begged suspicions of a convenient plot device towards the end. That said, the overall narrative isn’t unduly spoiled.
My lasting impression is of a relaxed, easy and confident narrative style which, for an emerging author of contemporary fiction, bodes very well for his future works. A writer to watch out for.