Junta Review -Guyana Times

‘Junta: The Coup is On’ – A novel by Ken Puddicombe

‘Junta…’ is more than a novel merely about a bloodless coup, executed by the military in a seemingly flawless plan headed by General Septimus Ignatius Marks, wrenching power from the legitimately elected government, as it goes beyond the coup into the machinations of the junta to hold onto to power, at whatever cost, pitting its machinery of manufactured fear and military decisiveness backed by a gang of mercenaries/thugs, headed by The Reverend – a merciless criminal, carrying out the dictates – doing the dirty work – of the army acting under direct instruction of Captain Stevenson, against tiny groups of people seeking the return to civilian rule and the restoration of Front Cover of Junta A Novel by Ken Puddicombedemocracy, a group consisting of students of a university led by Melanie Sanderson, the pugnacious editor of a newspaper, Clarence Baptiste, and a reformist priest, Father Bert, as it goes beyond the junta birthed in the wake of the coup as General Marks is supplanted by his protégé, now General Glen Stevenson. All of the above is set against the backdrop of Hurricane David which adds little to the suspense of the plot, but was a major player in further pauperising the less fortunate while sparing the rich and fortunate few.

 

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STORY OF THE MONTH

NOTE: “The Story Of The Month” changes every month OR bi-monthly and might also have been featured in my collection DOWN INDEPENDENCE BOULEVARD published by MiddleRoad Publishers in 2017 and available on Amazon, or might be an Extract from my two novels RACING WITH THE RAIN and JUNTA.

FOR MORE WRITING LIKE THIS CHECK OUT

Down Independence Boulevard: and other stories
by Ken Puddicombe
Link: http://a.co/4Fy5oBg

 

2017

December –The Touch Of Peace

2018

Jan – The Interview

Feb – The Underground [2nd Prize Polaris Magazine]

Mar –Welcome  To Punta Canada

APR – Return Of The Prodigal [from Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories]

MAY- No Thank You

JUNE – The Shoplifter

JULY/ AUGUST: The Last Straw [from Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories]

SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER: Relics In The Attic [from Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories]

NOVEMBER: The Day Queen Victoria Lost Her head [Published in The Caribbean Writer]

DECEMBER— The Touch Of Peace

2019

JANUARY/ FEBRUARY –The Effect Of Light Rays On The Milky Way and Minor Constellations

MARCH: Memory

APRIL/MAY: The Other Side

 

THE OTHER SIDE ©

“Can we go back, dad? Can we?”

“I keep telling you, son, we’re here to stay. We cannot go back.”

“But why dad? I wantto go back. I miss mum and the baby so much.”

He is like any other little boy of his own age, with the same faith in the power and invincibility of his father. He seems to be around four or five. His father is balancing him on his right leg and shuffling along the edge of The Forest.backlit-city-city-lights-730895.jpg

“We can only go on short visits, that’s all we’re allowed,” the father says, as he looks at the Other Side.

I can see the frustration on the father’s face. It’s like trying to explain why the sun rises in the east and sinks in the west, all part of a greater scheme of things fathers feel impotent to explain to their offspring. I know what he’s going through—I have seen it many times.

It does not help that we’re directly at the edge of The Forest, where just on the Other Side, the little boy can see what’s transpiring. It’s rush hour on the highway—people scurrying to and fro, heading home to family and friends through ramps leading to everywhere and nowhere. There’s an accident. Flashing lights, sirens, police cars, an ambulance, fire trucks. Someone’s heading soon to The Forest?

I stand not too far away, facing the father and son, but trying hard not to appear too interested or to get involved in the father’s predicament. I know if he sees me he will surely appeal to me for help, and I have no answers. I have long since given up trying to rationalize the reasons why things happen to some people while others go through their entire existence without ever falling victim to the quirks of an unpredictable world.

The father and son have been coming here every day. They are newcomers—new arrivals always come to the edge of The Forest, filled with expectation, hoping they can travel back to their habitat. Sooner or later the futility of it hits home and they come to the realization, like I did after a while—there is no going back.

It’s true, every now and then I cannot help myself and I steal away and come to the edge, to look at the Other Side. It’s bright over there, compared to The Forest, so vastly different, like night and day. Even as the heavy approach of dusk softens the edges of the landscape and blurs the horizon, it beckons, like the face of a beautiful woman you’ve caught sight of in a passing train. The longing is there, but you know the chances of seeing her again are almost non-existent.

On the other hand, The Forest is dark. The trees are tall, reaching upwards, forming a thick, impenetrable canopy. It is difficult to see the branches on top—they are all one dense mass, almost as if they belong to the same tree, making it impossible to see where one tree ends and the other starts. And the Other Side, that elusive, shadowy Eden, that glorious Pre-After, is the place we have all come from and yearn to go back.

The inhabitants of the Forest are always milling around in small pockets, not really doing anything, just waiting for an opportunity for a visitation to the Other Side. Visitations are mainly for evening trips, and rarely for daytime. I suppose that is why father and son keep coming here watching the sunset, hoping they might be issued a night summons.

The conversations among the residents revolve around one subject—how to find a way to go to the Other Side. It’s almost like a full-time conspiracy of finding the ways and means of doing it. Not that it ever amounts to anything, and this is the reason why there seems to be a general air of apathy. No one ever attempts to do anything about it because everything has already been undertaken. Think of a way of escaping and someone will shrug and tell you its been tried before. Talk about appealing your case and another will tell you the judgment that got you here is irrevocable. Ask what it is that holds us here, why is it we can’t just keep going on and on until we reach the Other Side, and those around you will laugh and tell you the dividing line between the Other Side and the Forest is as untenable and immutable as the horizon—you can keep travelling but you will never reach it.

All the inhabitants here remember clearly when they arrived, and what caused it. In our zone, too, everyone seems to have something in common, something to talk about, like how fate dealt a cruel blow, leading to a premature demise. Take Mister Kim, for example. He was a businessman who owned a convenience store, worked seven days a week with no break for many years and had provided well for his family. He was murdered in a holdup one night. Or Ram Pertab, the one with the little boy who keeps asking about going back to the Other Side. After work one night he stopped off for a few drinks before he picked up his son at the sitter. His car was a total write-off. Then there’s Gloria Cole, she was driving home one day during rush hour when a wheel flew off a truck and smashed into her windshield.

We all have something else in common. We all share the same thought:What wouldn’t I give for another chance on the Other Side!

 

Most of the inhabitants here can recall the number of times they have gone back on visitations. But there is no official record of anyone ever returning permanently, although there are always rumours about people who were booked to arrive and had a last minute reprieve. Who made the decision to keep them there and why it was done, is unknown.

I can still remember my own crossing over. It was a trip from Toronto to New York City one holiday weekend, starting out after work and driving overnight to pick up my family from relatives they were visiting. It was a long and tedious journey. Somewhere past the town of Marathon, on the I-81, I was sure I had pulled myself out of the almost overpowering urge to close my eyes for just one brief moment. I guess I hadn’t.

It took some getting used to my predicament when I first arrived. I went through the usual freshman symptoms of alienation, feeling I was unjustly banished to the Forest. Why me? What did I do wrong to deserve this God forsaken place where time was endless and space limitless? I would drift from one group to another and listen, with some alarm, to the conversations. Even when I finally accepted there was no escaping my destiny, I grew concerned when they openly discussed plans for escape. I did not participate, scared that someone would report me and I would end up losing my visitation privileges.

Something else overwhelmed me when I first arrived. It was the Tunnel. Every region of the Forest has one. It’s how you get from the Other Side to the Hereafter, a one-way trip defying gravity and time and space and simply propelling you forward and outward into the Forest. Entities pass through the Tunnel, through the top of the canopy, with no evidence of their arrival. There is no rustling sound of leaves, no crackling report from broken branches, no thunderous echo as they arrive. It’s almost as if they have materialized from nothing.

I have heard old timers talk of cases where entities are sometimes returned to the Other Side. I’m not sure why these particular ones are marked Rejectedand restored, why they are granted this special privilege above all others.

I can still remember my last visitation two nights ago. The summons was from my wife. She was calling for me in her sleep as she tossed and turned in bed, the same bed we’d shared for over twenty years. She was wearing an old shirt, one of those I can recall leaving in the laundry basket shortly before I started out on my trip.

 

“Do you think we’ll get to visit mum and the baby again, dad?” The little boy asks his father, once more.

This time, the boy is picking up stones and pelting them over to the Other Side although it is clear he is not making an impact anywhere.

They’re still lucky, these two. They were both fortunate enough to leave the Other Side at the same time. At least, the boy has his father for company. I have seen children alone in the Forest, wandering aimlessly to see if they recognize anyone. And, I have seen adults too, grieving over someone they left on the Other Side, compelled by a memory that will never let them go, haunted by a sad refrain summoning them time and again.

As I listen to the boy and his father, I look over my shoulder. It’s fast getting dark on the Other Side, almost as dark as the Forest. But no, now that I have seen both sides, I don’t think anyplace could be as dark as the Forest. And, there is no doubt about which side I would rather be.

The father says: “I don’t know, son. We’ll just have to wait for the next summons. Anyhow…some day they will be all like us, and then, it won’t really matter.”

END

Racing With The Rain

CAN AN INDIVIDUAL MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN POWERFUL FORCES ARE ALIGNED AGAINST DEMOCRACY? CAN SOMEONE AVOID THE STIGMA OF HIS HERITAGE?

These questions are essential to the theme of Ken Puddicombe’s new novel JUNTA.

Expatriate Marcus Jacobson wants to make a difference on newly independent Saint Anglia where he is taking up a professorship but there are forces that will test his expectation. The military, under General Marks stages a coup, and Hurricane David is heading for the island.

Marcus also has skeletons in his closet. He’s descended from the Planter Class that once owned slaves on the island. He’s torn—does he have the right to get involved in the politics of the island or should he be a bystander?

The people Marcus encounters will determine his attitude to the Junta. These people include: Melanie, a student who thinks force should be used to restore democracy; Father Bert, a priest who believes in Liberation Theology; Clarence Baptiste, editor of the local newspaper who will use the media to oppose; The Reverend who runs a dirty tricks campaign for the Junta; Kentish, an islander who is a pacifist by nature and believes that events should run their course. Marcus finds himself being inexorably drawn towards Melanie and when she takes matters into her own hands, the decision is made. But, the Junta is determined to hold on to power at all cost.

 

For a signed copy of Racing With The Rain eBook

Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories

A taxi driver notices the changes in Independence Boulevard since freedom was gained from Britain. A free-wheeling spirit spends his time gambling and engaging in riots. A man is sentenced to death for the murder of his lover. Two women escape racial conflict and seek a better life at home and abroad. A housewife has faced the last straw with her husband. A mailman is caught in the middle of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack. These are some of the characters encountered in this engaging collection of short stories from the pen of Ken Puddicombe.

Amazon link: Down Independence Boulevard: and other stories
by Ken Puddicombe
Link: http://a.co/djDIyAZ

 

 


 

 

Racing Review by Frank Birbalsingh

REVIEW OF RACING WITH THE RAIN by Frank Birbalsingh

Professor Emeritus, English Literature, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Racing With The Rain is the first novel of Guyanese born Ken Puddicombe who, since 1971, has lived in Canada where he works as an accountant. Racing offers a fictional version of political events during a turbulent period, from the 1960s to the 1980s, in the history of Guyana, formerly British Guiana. The novel is a roman a clef, one in which people and events may be identified through fictional names assigned to particular organizations, individuals or places, for example, “Liberty House” for actual Freedom House, “Arawak Hotel” for Carib Hotel, “Kingsley” for Sydney King, and “Jack Hill” for Kelshall.

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JUNTA -What Readers Say About It

“…The diverse characters in the book become enmeshed in the struggle and the tension between them builds increasingly from page to page.” –Enrico Downer, author of There Once Was a Little England.


“JUNTA examines the politics of a nation as only a skilled storyteller like author Ken Puddicombe can.  Rich with local flavor and characters that live and breathe on the page, JUNTA will stay with you long after you close the book.”—Karen Fenech author of The Protectors Series.


on March 2, 2016
In reading Junta, I found Mr. Puddicombe to be a very good storyteller. The narrative of this book had rhythm and tone that was tastefully weaved in with facts, that gave it the writing style of non-fiction. I got a sense that I was on a historical journey from a journalistic point of view. The book featured scenes with meaningful slices of life. There were so many well-planned series of events that occured as soon as the plot unfolded, which heightened the conflict from the opening pages with background information coming through as the story progresed.

All of the characters were well-developed. They were credible, interesting and unique, with disctintive voices. Each character has their own personal journey, suffering and hopes. I thoroughly understood them through their thoughts, feeling and actions. The dialogue was done with such sophistication that it revealed new facets of their personalities. West Indians have a specific way of phrasing sentences and I liked Ken’s artistic decision to go with the accent. It flowed well and it was easy to follow. I noticed there was a lot of emphasis on the setting of the fictionous island of St. Anglia. The setting adequately described powerful descriptive passages and visual imagery that at times I actually felt I was brought into the world that he created, as the author. This story had so much rising tensions and climaxes that at times it felt like I was watching an action movie.

Overall, I think the basic premise of this novel was appealing and well executed. It’s concise with a great writing style. I feel as a historical fiction it captured the time and it kept me totally engaged from the beginning to the end.


on February 18, 2015
This fictional account of a Coup on a fictional island in the Caribbean made for an interesting read. However there was one part of the book which needed more to be written about before the conclusion of the story.

JUNTA -a novel

CAN AN INDIVIDUAL MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN POWERFUL FORCES ARE ALIGNED AGAINST DEMOCRACY? CAN SOMEONE AVOID THE STIGMA OF HIS HERITAGE?

These questions are essential to the theme of the novel JUNTA.

Expatriate Marcus Jacobson wants to make a difference on newly independent Saint Anglia where he is taking up a professorship but there are forces that will test his expectation. The military, under General Marks stages a coup, and Hurricane David is heading for the island.

Marcus also has skeletons in his closet. He’s descended from the Planter Class that once owned slaves on the island. He’s torn—does he have the right to get involved in the politics of the island or should he be a bystander?

The people Marcus encounters will determine his attitude to the Junta. These people include: Melanie, a student who thinks force should be used to restore democracy; Father Bert, a priest who believes in Liberation Theology; Clarence Baptiste, editor of the local newspaper who will use the media to oppose; The Reverend who runs a dirty tricks campaign for the Junta; Kentish, an islander who is a pacifist by nature and believes that events should run their course. Marcus finds himself being inexorably drawn towards Melanie and when she takes matters into her own hands, the decision is made. But, the Junta is determined to hold on to power at all cost.


 

 

What Readers Say About Racing With The Rain

“Characters caught between deeply conflicting loyalties are driven by the politics of the dank, tropical atmosphere of a British Caribbean colony, half a century ago, only to find themselves trapped in a drama whose tragic effects still haunt them and their fellow Guyanese.” –Frank Birbalsingh author of Novels and The Nation: Essays in Canadian Literature.


“Kenneth Puddicombe’s RACING WITH THE RAIN is a gritty look at the politics of a nation and within a family that drive a young man from his home and from his country. Gripping and hard-hitting, this is a novel you won’t want to miss.”  —Karen Fenech author of Gone


“From the first page…the characters come alive in…creating enough tension to want the reader to thirst for more. As a fellow author, I am impressed with this author’s writing style which left me chomping at the bit to read beyond the first chapter.” –ENRICO DOWNER, author of There Once Was a Little England, a story about man’s obsession with colour and class in colonial Barbados.


By Kat Lager

Amazon Verified Purchase

This review is from: Racing With The Rain (Kindle Edition)

I love the author’s use of descriptive language. The setting and characters jump off the pages of the book.

Racing With the Rain has many layers to it. It examines family conflict, political upheaval and personal turmoil. The reader follows the main character, Carl Dias, through a journey where he discovers what really matters in life.


By bazp

Format:Paperback from Amazon

I completed this novel in 3 days for the turning of every page drove me deeper into the story, politics and human side of the characters. The author’s vision and story were well told and a remarkable representation of colonialism. Highly recommended.


FROM JOSIE ANGOD

This book was quite a journey for me!  Being married to a Guyanese for almost 40 years now, I could relate to many of Carl’s childhood adventures. They rang really true to Guyanese life from my husband’s experiences, and especially from stories my mother-in-law related to me over the years. Your book helped to connect the dots. In particular, I learned much about Guyanese history after Independence that I was not aware of.

This is a very informative book that all children of Guyanese heritage should read. It would help them better understand why their parents think the way they do; the challenges they faced in their childhood and the hardships in finding their way out of Guyana.

I enjoyed your book. You are a descriptive writer who paints well with pen in hand. Your story had a bit of everything….suspense, humor, history, and romance. Most of your main characters have some redeeming qualities about them. I like that.

Josie Angod


FROM ELEANOR GILLON

I finished Racing with the Rain this morning and WOW, what a great book. It kept me wondering what was going to happen next, full of suspense, reality of life and I got a bit of a history lesson. Thanks Ken and I hope you are working on another one!


A masterpiece!! Mar 9 2013

By Ryguy

Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

Racing with the Rain immerses the reader in a captivating plot, that leaves them scrambling to finish the current page and eagerly turn towards the next one. A must read for everyone!


Memorable April 25 2013

By Shopaholic – Published on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

Racing With the Rain in a memorable novel about family, human relations and life in Guyana pre and post independence. Well written, the author draws you to the relatable character of Carl Dias, a man who has to come to grips with his past, present and future while visiting a country he once fleed. Fast moving, poignant, touching, this story is well told and many generations of Guyanese immigrants now living abroad will come to appreaciate the insight this fiction provides into the realities of what their parents and grandparents endured during the struggle for independence in Guyana.

Racing With The Rain: A fast moving rain cloud in an otherwise clear sky triggers a sudden downpour and people run for cover. Is it possible to outrun the rain? Can one ever really escape the past?


on December 28, 2014
A gripping page-turner. Puddicombe blends the past and present, creating tension and greater appreciation of what is at stake when a son returns home to his birthplace to bury his father with whom he has had a troubled relationship. The connection with my own return to Guyana after my father’s death was immediate and heartfelt. A story that brings to the fore the conflicting relationships between a father and his sons.

on April 17, 2014
Thanks for writing this novel and revealing what was silenced and distorted for so long. A gripping story and a real page turner for someone who was too young to understand all the hatred and violence of the 1960s in Guyana.

on June 11, 2013
Very well written,the author seems to have been very thorough in his research. Unfortunately though it brought back long forgotten memories of a very scary time in Guyana, it was also nostalgic,taking me back to other earlier happy & carefree days. Yes, it was a race with the rain, homes open to let in the fresh air had to be quickly shuttered before it came clattering down onto the zinc roofs. Good reading.

on November 10, 2012
Ken Puddicombe’s intriguing novel takes us back to a time when British Guiana (now Guyana) and the wider Caribbean were the pawns in the on-going conflicts between colonial powers. The will of the people and the welfare of the common man mattered little in that time of Cold War rivalry. The story’s characters come alive from the very first page and I attribute this to the author’s gripping writing style. The tensions among the members of a Guyanese family are palpable. They reverberate from the beginning of the story when it is seen that the government’s deep-seated corruption has caused a family to flee the country and has literally torn them apart.
This book will appeal to anyone who is interested in the interplay between powerful nations to the detriment of a relatively small country.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

on February 17, 2017
“Racing with the Rain” portrays a vivid account of life in Guyana and has fired my deep longing to visit the country. The writer has captured the atmosphere and mood of the ordinary people and their interaction with the political issues of that time. I could not put the book down ; it was absorbing right to the end. Ken is a talented and fiercely observant writer with a sensitive understanding of human emotions and I felt this was a very compelling story.

“Book Review: “Racing With The Rain” by Ram Angod

In his debut novel, “Racing With The Rain”, Ken Puddicombe fictionalizes his personal experiences growing up in British Guiana within a context of racial conflict, turbulent colonial politics, boyhood exploits, and divisive family tensions. The principal character, Carl Diaz, reluctantly returns to his native land to attend his father’s funeral and through a perceptual lens tinted by 16 years of cultural exposure in Toronto, he reflects on his life in the British colony. Puddicombe holds the reader’s interest in his novel through gruesome national politics, humour, colourful characters, family intrigues, some final suspense, and simply by humanizing his several sub-plots in ways most of us can relate to. “Racing With the Rain” is a good read, the kind of stuff you’d enjoy curled up in your sofa on a rainy day!

—Ram Angod, World Traveller. Existentialist.

Book Review – Down Independence Boulevard and other stories

NO better reward for a writer than to see his work acknowledged!

90rollsroyces

I found out about this book by Ken Puddicombe on Rosaliene Bacchus’ blog – Three Worlds One Vision. Read her fantastic review of this book – Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories by Ken Puddicombe. 

I wanted to read this book since its based in Guyana and the steady diet of American/British based novels was getting too boring. I am glad I read the book because it has given me an idea for a book of my own. I don’t like short stories – so I never buy a short story collection by any author, but this book is very interesting because its a series of short stories that are all interlinked. Just loved that style.

I learnt a lot of new things – the presence of Indians in Guyana for one. I knew that there were Indians in the West Indies because some of them play for the…

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