Sunday, April 14, 2013

“Neighbours” Still Generating Interest

My short story “Neighbours” from Lovers and Strangers Revisited still generates plenty of interest after getting another extension of SPM Literature to 2014, no doubt because of the gossiping over a neighbour who committed suicide.
This morning I stumbled upon a 14-minute video of the story shot in a secondary school classroom (the first perhaps to be uploaded to YouTube).  It was more of a skit than an actual performance.  The students posted, “Don't judge it. We are amateurs… go read the story!”

The skit reminded me of the students from SMK (p) Sri Aman Petaling Jeya that I met at the Popular BookFest@Malaysia 2010 who put on a full performance of the story.  

Of course neither compares to  "Home for Hari Raya" filmed by Ohio University in December 2012/January 2013 expected to be premiered later this month.

I also came across a “Neighbours” exam question from the site MissyMacy:

See! See! That's what happens when grown boys stay at home - they got restless!" Ramli said, his arms raised in surrender. "Only a wife will settle them. A wife and a job will teach them some responsibilities. If you ask me, Johnny had it too easy. Too easy - has a working wife and only two children. One living on his own like that"

a) How does Ramli propose to overcome the grown boys' restlessness? (5marks)
b) Discuss the significance of the title. (8marks)
c) "Some people may think that gossiping is harmless, but in actual fact it can be very destructive."  Discuss the truth of the statement with close reference to the story. (12marks)

This is much easier than the question from an e-course that was posted on an earlier blog. 

Sue Ann Teo then referred to “Neighbours” in an "The Art of Secrecy" about gossiping in an article series titled, Reflections: Can you keep a secret?” awhile back (just came across it).  She wrote: “It suddenly hit me; there is a short story written by Robert Raymer about gossiping among the neighbors in Malaysia. With words, Raymer has painted so vividly in the readers minds the scenarios of a group of neighbours, gossiping about something that they are not supposed to tell anyone - secrets of others.”

This reminded me Denis Harry’s article “Are You Mrs.Koh?” that she wrote about my character from “Neighbours” for The New Straits Times, also about gossiping.

For gossiping in general, we all need to reminded, now and then, that what goes around, comes around . . . . Of course, the best place to gossip is in your fiction.  Just make sure you change the names and identities of your characters and perhaps the settings, too, just in case...

*Later, I stumbled upon another film, a seven-minute abbreviated version  of "Home for Hari Raya", uploaded in January, produced for “A Creative English Project”.  The school wasn't named.  It's nice that students in Malaysia are attracted to my short stories.  Of course, this version doesn’t compare to the 24-minute version by Ohio University!  

**Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited 

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I