Saturday, 8 May 2010

Kenneth’s Taste for Red

Every SVA member loved Rob’s short story written in a humorous style with captivating character descriptions. Rob had asked for our input having been unsuccessful in a writing competition. We tried our best but found it almost impossible to improve on what Rob had initially written. This led us to question what judges look for in a piece of prose. We decided it was difficult to define.

We are introduced to Kenneth Madeley, the third time winner of best wine in show in his local town competition. He is deliberating whether he needs more challenging opposition when he is unexpectedly elevated to the position of judge. Kenneth relishes the task. However, his judgement comes under scrutiny from a rather irate Mrs Mary McKellar demanding to know why he has declined to judge her wine. There ensues a comical conversation between expert and novice each standing up for their rights. Kenneth’s dogged determination to abide by the rules begins to waver as he becomes distracted by his admiration of Mrs McKellar’s physical attributes.

SVA members highlighted aspects of Rob’s narrative that particularly drew their attention: The double-entendre in the title, the excellent portrayal of Kenneth’s personality, the vivid picture painting the competition scene and Kenneth’s expertise as he performs each stage of the wine judging process.

Rob’s cleverly written prose draws the reader into the scene as the red-haired woman makes her dramatic entrance. Her unexpected shriek initiates images of shocked faces and sudden silence as all eyes are focused on Kenneth and the woman. The reader is then treated to an entertaining dialogue in which we learn about Mrs Mckellar’s Aunt’s potato wine recipe. “…….But I make it with Smash”, is no doubt received by the other competition entrants with incredulity. This is rapidly followed by, “You know, for mash get Smash off the telly.” Kenneth indignantly states that competition wines have to be made from original fruit and vegetables. The coup de grace comes at the end of the paragraph, “…..Certainly not packets of freeze-dried pebbles purporting to be potatoes”

Examples of the linguistic richness of the text are illustrated by: ‘...pushed his snout inside like a dog checking a dustbin….’(alluding to Kenneth’s checking the nose of the wine), ‘….she wrestled her bosom higher in her chest’, ‘Her pippin cheeks puffed…..’, ‘Her pink tongue slithered like a snake across her moist lower lip’, the description of the rolling of the Scottish ‘r’.

True to form, dilemma’s concerning punctuation were raised. On this occasion the subject was the use of the colon & semi-colon. The debate continues……..
Posted by Helen 080510

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