Being in the Mentorship programme last year brought me into contact with many in the local writing industry. I got to rub shoulders with editors, authors, publishers, and for a moment, I felt I was that close to achieving my dreams of being a published author. Among the authors I met was Russ Soh, who had encouraging words for me the few time we met.
I enjoy his short stories, which provide a glimpse to mundane every day life in Singapore, almost as if the author had eavesdropped on our conversation and reproduced it in print, as in It Takes Two. I much prefer this book, his first, than to his later book Tales from the ECP (https://vickychong.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/tales-from-the-ecp-by-russ-soh/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true). In It Takes Two, a conversation between a husband and wife tells the struggle of parenting in Singapore. Who should be the good cop and who the bad one in parenting?
The straight forward narratives in this book reflect the different family relationships that are universal, yet uniquely Singaporean. One story could be set in colonial Singapore, another in modern Singapore, in kampong or HDB heartlands, in ways which reflect the changing demography and social transformation of the country itself.
It was also a fresh perspective reading about family writing from a man. In this case, musculine relationships, between brothers, fathers and sons, which are often neglected in local works as compared to female writers, are explored. Like real life, the swallowed words, the awkward silence, between men who should supposedly share a close relationship are thwarted by communication gap, an invincible shield put in place by culture, hierarchy and pride.
Do pick up the book and read it during our National Day Month next month.