by Arantza Mendez-Aguirre
After the Laughter Slaughter the Otter, Bryan van Scoyk’s “opera prima”, was the focus of the last literary event run by the Planet-BPM team: an English book which curiously saw the light of day in Madrid and is, no doubt, a clear exponent of all the personal involvement, time investment and stamina required in auto-edition.
How to catch the attention of the reader
Because of its phonetically appealing, more-than-any-other-thing-catching title, wondering about its meaning is both unavoidable and pointless. And so it is trying to find the content-title connection: it does not exist, as simple as that. After the Laughter Slaughter the Otter is thetrampoline to jump on a series of short stories which, enormously differing in both style and content, deal with the most universal, relevant dilemmas nowadays: motivation, depression, suicide, parental tapes, impossible relationships, education…and so on.
Likewise, the way emotions are approached deserves some mentioning in as much as they are described into fully physical detail: the feeling of one’s scalp shrinking and frogs moving within the stomach are common in such “gutting” stories. Accordingly, controversy is deeply analysed, values questioned, dilemmas directly dealt with.
We liked the book because of its:
- Title: out of the phonetic strength of its title, After the Laughter Slaughter the Otter bears neither a feasible translation or a straight title-content relationship. On the other hand, it manages to capture one’s attention.
- Proper and generous use of language devices, so as to enhance emotional conveyance . Object -personalisation, repetition, flawless parallel constructions, rich vocabulary…
- Non-cautionary, but still didactic drive: we feel this is a suitable vehicle for youngsters and both native and non-native English students to deal with different issues in life, and appreciate the many different alternatives to approach them.
- Thematic supply: the stories are independently exposed, show no relationship among themselves, and are run by different individuals, widely differing in age, personal profile and educational background.
- Type: Narrative, shaped up in a collection of short stories.
- Target: Young adults and adults.
- Time Frame: Present times.
- Place: Location is a mixture of the at-times-most-classic and at-times -most-unexpected spots all over the world: Madrid, Sarajevo, India, Croatia, Africa, America’s “Old South”…
SOMETHING TO REMARK: Bryan’s ability to master so many different styles. The change of format, register and narrator seems to be an innate ability in him. The whole book seems to have been written by many different authors.
FURTHER READING: El bolígrafo de gel verde, by Eloy Moreno, another example of auto-edition and Five, a Doris Lessing’s short stories collection.