Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Keep it Dark is a bright read

Keep it Dark
Will Jonson

Red Axe Books

This is a very impressive debut novel by Unite community member, Will Jonson. Keep it Dark articulately brings to life some momentous 20th century political events such as the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of Stalingrad 1942-43, the Holocaust, the Soviet Union invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan and the shipyard occupations, strikes and riots in 1970s and 80s Britain.

Just eight, Tommy embarrassingly catches his Uncle Jack, often the butt of family jokes for having served in the Merchant Navy during the World War, sobbing his heart out. Tommy grows up loving books. Jack has lots of them. Young and old become close friends.

As Tommy develops an understanding of why Jack was so distressed he is transported back to the 1930s when his uncle left Britain alongside his best friend, Robbie, to join the International Brigades and fight against Franco, and his fascist allies, in Spain.

Both fighters forge intense, brief, relationships with two Russian female crack snipers, whose socialist beliefs are ultimately crushed by a combination of fascism and a Soviet system where the working class was unable to establish its authority over the state bureaucracy.

If the tale itself is therefore heavy, and ultimately tragic, the telling of it is certainly not. All the main characters have real loving warmth to them and as the tale moves across Europe, Jonson’s successful combination of the personal with the political is highly emotive. The scene descriptions are also believable and there is sufficient of a twist to the tale to keep the reader seeking answers. Keep it Dark is certainly worth reading.

The author – Will Jonson is a pseudonym for David Wheeler, who worked for many years as a teacher before retiring on ill-health grounds. Born in 1957 in London, David now lives in Lincolnshire and joined Unite community because (unlike the NUT) it is affiliated to the Labour Party and he was impressed by the number of Unite members on an anti-cuts march he attended in London. He is currently working on his second novel but in the meantime he has started publishing out of copyright books by famous writers such as Jack London and William Blake. See for example:-

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