Getting to Understand the situation of ‘That Guy’| Review of “Martin John” by Anakana Schofield (2015) Biblioasis

We have all pondered the individual that seems disturbed or odd in some way. We wonder about their thoughts or their actions but we forget about them after a little while. So what makes them who they are? Anakana Schofield goes into the mind and the life of one such person in her thought-provoking novel Martin John.

Page 20- What They Know:

He remembered the strange fluorescent light, the organized nature of the room and how odd (it was) for a country dental practice to be so well planned inside a house: treatment room + waiting room. The physical space, so carefully executed, had made him comfortable and sleepy.

While the narrative of this book is disjointed and jumbled at times, it helps in giving us the feeling of what Martin John’s life is like. We are given small paragraphs of thoughts and emotions on large blank pages which allow us that moment to ponder and question what we have just read. And in many cases our reflections leave us confused about the protagonist. We know he has done something bad and he will do something bad again but those points are ambiguous in their details. So we read on to try to gain more details.

Page 82 – What They Don’t Know: He Has Made Mistakes

  He has made mistakes:

Martin John has made mistakes.

Baldy Conscience continues to be his biggest mistake. He has been a five-year mistake. A repeat spade-to-the-back-of-his-head mistake. Baldy Conscience lied when moving in. He cannot remember the exact shape of the lies but Baldy Conscience is not who he said he was. He said he was a quiet man. Baldy Conscience said he liked building ships out of matchsticks.

Baldy Conscience was when all the latest trouble officially started again. He is at the bottom of his current situation and he knows it. He even tells the Doctor in the hospital about Baldy Conscience. He fucked everything up for me. I think there;s legions of people out there bothered by him. He’s probably causing the trouble in Beirut. If you killed him now or tomorrow all would be well. He doesn’t smile when he says it. The Doctor looks down at his paper and etches something onto it.

I can’t emphasize enough that this novel isn’t an easy read. This isn’t the type of novel where an English teacher would use to show proper grammar and language usage. But it does show an important slice of the human condition.

Page 140 – What they know: the phone calls.

Martin John observes the Manager fella leaving the office much more than usual. Each time the Manager fella approaches the guard’s desk, Martin John – never doing anything more illegal or illicit than reading the Bible to keep Dallas happy – brightly tells the Manager fella that Rain will fall.

Rain will fall, he’ll announce even when rain is indeed falling and has been falling for the past 7 hours. His choice of the same statement troubles the Manager fella, who is actively patrolling for signs of poor body scent. Martin John is onto him. And onto them. and onto talcum powder. Lily of the Valley. Every orifice dusted with the stuff. Shoes lined with it. He is springing lily puffs, if he moves swift. Martin John is onto them. He even pats a layer of it into his underpants.

The thing none of them factor in is the thing none of them know.

While it isn’t a simple read, Martin John by Anakana Schofield is a great read. She has documented a slice of the human condition in this book in all it’s muddle and confusion and fears. Therefore it is a great piece of literature.

Extracted from Martin John by Anakana Schofield © 2015 Anakana Schofield. Reprinted with permission from the publisher

 

Link to Anakana Schofield’s website

Link to Biblioasis page for Martin John

2 thoughts on “Getting to Understand the situation of ‘That Guy’| Review of “Martin John” by Anakana Schofield (2015) Biblioasis

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