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Seven Tales of Centrix

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Success Stories

by Sara John 

ISBN 0 86243 782 2
Dinas, 2005
110 pp, paperback
Retail price 5.95


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This book is, as it says, seven tales set in the created village of Centrix. Centrix is a place that is coastal, Welsh and small. In some ways it is Llareggub, but in many other ways it noticeably isn’t. Also, while the title and my first sentence describe the seven entries in this book as "tales", in many ways they also are not.

Books remind me sometimes of different artistic endeavours. Thus the works of Miss Read always struck me as watercolours and this book is firmly, to my mind, in the realm of jazz. Thus Sara John has a central theme, or melody, from which she riffs in different directions, while always retaining the shape of the central melody.

The central melody is Centrix itself, but also its characters, such as Captain Bryce-Pryce, Mr Ieuan Iestyn ap Iorworth Grizzly, Lady North North-Weston, Lady Llewelyn-Jenkins-John, etc. These characters intertwine and re-occur (like twisted lines on a sax or trumpet) as the stories progress. They are, as their names indicate, colourful and eccentric or, as Sara John describes them herself, "delightfully and completely themselves". They are the reason, together with the ready wit and delightful style of the author, for the enjoyment conveyed by this small book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Seven Tales of Centrix and the fact that none of the tales actually did much or went far, is completely irrelevant for they too are "delightfully and completely themselves". I see no point whatsoever in offering any criticism or suggestions to the author of this work, as part of its success comes from realising that this work is not like anything else you have read (despite my "Llareggub" comment above) and it is valuable for that very reason. I’m not sure if the concept of Centrix is big enough to carry any further work, but for this book alone, it’s a perfectly formed little entity which I would like to praise.

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams