England’s C.J. Tudor’s first novel, The Chalk Man, published in 2018, was a (London) Times best seller. It has sold in more than 40 countries and been praised by Stephen King. It received the 2019 Barry Award for Best First Novel. A copy recently came my way. Set in a small town, the novel rotates between 1986 and 2016. It’s the story of a group of five twelve-year-olds, one female, from the point of view of one who grows up to be an English teacher. Two incidents from the earlier time period have a profound effect on him, a carnival accident and a murder. He suffers nightmares. He has odd quirks. Still, he is a good person. The five kids devise a means of communication, each using a different color chalk. The title designation falls on a new teacher, an albino artist. As anyone who follows this blog knows, I’m not a fan of mysteries. This one is a cut above most because it contains the element that elevates the narrative above genre — existential angst. Here are three examples: “…Secrets are like arseholes. We all have them. It’s just that some are dirtier than others.” And: “… For who are we if not the sum of our experiences, the things that we gather and collect in life? Once you strip those away we become just a mass of flesh, bone and blood vessels.” And: “If you’re lucky, you’ll make your own exit before you are reduced, once again, to living in a single room, sleeping in a bed with bars, unable to wipe your own bottom.” The prose and dialogue are solid. As usual the twists and turns tried my patience. The culprit is not a surprise, although the back and forth of the story line misdirects from the obvious. There is a social element that should have been minimized. How one feels about it will likely determine if the reader thinks it’s politicking or not. I believe it is. Still, The Chalk Man is a first novel to be proud of. The post-resolution twist is eye-opening. 3900+ plus users at Amazon have rated the book, forging to a consensus of 4.2 on a scale of five. The hardcover edition is 277 pages, a fairly easy read, the differences in UK and Yank terminology not as stark as in most books. It is rife with cultural references, some negative. Tudor has followed with three other novels. Her age is believed to be in the neighborhood of 50. Photo from Google Images.
This is Myles Copeland, a minor league basketball player for his hometown Toledo team. The other night the squad was playing in Jamestown, New York when a ref suffered a heart attack. Copeland administered CPR until paramedics arrived, saving the man’s life. Kudos, sir. (Culled from FN, photo from GI:
Headline from foxnews.com: “Top airline ending service to 3 major cities due to pilot shortage.” Where did they go?
From an FN article by Lisa Bennatan: “A U.S. company is helping Ukraine build a missile defense system — its own version of Israel’s Iron Dome — to prevent Russian rockets from striking its populace.” The firm is JustAnswer. Kudos.
Another gorgeous day to sell stuff curbside, but business was only so-so. My thanks to the kind folks who donated, swapped and bought wares. Here’s what sold: one book in Russian, The Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr. by Steven M. Gillon; Yellow Fever, Black Goddess: The Coevolution Of People And Plagues by Christopher Wills; three DVDs in Russian, and this, photo from GI:
My Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Vic-Fortezza/e/B002M4NLJE
Read Vic’s Stories, free: http://fictionaut.com/users/vic-fortezza