Where Honesty Never Ends.
In addition to being a member of The Review Board, I just recently accepted a position as a Read and Review Team Member on Fate Books by Y. Correa. Some of the reviews you will see will be based on books she has given me for review. However, they will be presented in the same fashion as I would present one from TRB.
One of the stories given to me for review was Kwame’s Passage by Jerry Sarkwah.
I have heard of other reviewers who speak of writings they cannot finish. I have not encountered a writing I could say this about.
That is, until now.
First off, let’s start with the submitted blurb, outlining what the story is about:
A man called Kwame Mac-White Blackteng unfolds a tragic incident in his life that for some reasons managed to subjugate that scar on his will but proof futile. The barbaric treatment and injustice suffered; under such a heartless woman, called Mrs. Mensah when just as a teenager leaves him to his fate, until the rescued by the American Missionary.
It is not a good sign when I’m proofreading and making adjustments to the blurb inside my head. Yet, I decided to try and give this piece the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe the person was in a hurry.
Maybe the person couldn’t quite fully put into words what he was writing about.
By chapter four, I had to cease and desist.
I’m sure this has the makings of a wonderful story but I couldn’t get to the story because I found myself stopping too much to proofread.
The first thing I noticed was there were so many commas. If the lottery were to be measured in commas, then anyone in possession of Kwame’s Passage would be millionaires. They are placed where they aren’t needed. One example is in the exchange of dialogue. Commas are placed where there should be periods, ending one person’s statement and going to the next person’s statement.
The second thing I noticed were instances of emphasis redundancy. What I mean by this is using two words that basically mean the same thing when it comes to describing something.
For example, in Chapter One, there’s a line which reads:
She was in her thirties, slim, not thick tall and sharp looking woman for her age.
“Not thick” has the same literary connotation as “slim”. Therefore, both are not needed. I could have excused it if it were just sprinkles of it, but there were multiple instances of it through what I read.
The third thing I noticed were an abundance of underscores. I’ve seen the underscore (_ ) used in creating e-mail addresses and file names. I’ve never seen it used as a tool in writing: at least not in the way the writer is utilizing it in Kwame’s Passage.
The untimely call of Rev. MW Blackteng by the father in heaven was the beginning of rising pains to be yet unraveled_
If one is setting up the expense for the upcoming chapters, I can envision ellipses (…) after the word “unraveled”. I can even see using a period. I do not envision the underscore.
Also in this sentence:
I believe, hearing me out; will be a great way to give more confident to you_about life and how to expect to go about any single stage in life.
The underscore doesn’t add any extra value or serve any purpose. If one takes the underscore out, the sentence still possesses the same meaning.
These underscores are random. They have no place in the writing of this story.
In addition to the abundance of underscores were the parentheses. The following view of parentheses is taken from The Guide to Grammar and Writing:
Use parentheses [ ( ) ] to include material that you want to de-emphasize or that wouldn’t normally fit into the flow of your text but you want to include nonetheless.
If the material is important enough, use some other means of including it within your text—even if it means writing another sentence. Note that parentheses tend to de-emphasize ext whereas dashes tend to make material seem even more important.
Rev. Mac-White Matthew Blackteng (the angel) was a chosen one and worthy to propagate God’s words.
Does the writer want to downplay Rev. Blackteng’s role as Kwame’s angel or does he wants to illuminate the Reverend’s importance?
Based on the blurb, I sense the author wants to make the Reverend important. Therefore, the angel being in parentheses downplays Rev. Blackteng’s importance. It would be better to word this in another way or something along these lines:
I believe Rev. Mac-White Matthew Blackteng was chosen as my angel. He is worthy to propagate God’s words.
‘How old are you?’ asked by Mr. J. Sakyi (the headmaster)
I present the same question about whether the title is important. If so why not state it as:
…Mr. J. Sakyi, the headmaster.
Since I read an article that it is acceptable in British English to use single quotations in quotes instead of double quotations, I will refrain from saying anything in regards to them.
Source: English Language and Usage
However, I do confess to being more adjusted to the American English protocol as it pertains to double quotations usage versus single quotations usage. In short: Double quotations for direct quotes; single quotations for quotes within a quote.
Although I like the inclusion of pictures in this short story, I would have loved for a couple to have been clearer in resolution so that I could see how they tie into certain parts of the story, especially the one which reads “Kwame strapped behind the car’s boot”. This would have definitely tugged at my heart strings if I could see Kwame clearly in the picture.
Misused punctuation, fragments and run-on sentences, improper spacing, and hard to interpret meanings behind some of the words made Kwame’s Passage feel like a testament of the readers’ endurance in deciphering rather than a story where we can celebrate Kwame’s triumph. Proofreading by skilled individuals could definitely serve as an investment for any future writings by this author.
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