The Surbiton Writers Group: Searching For Sugar Man to Will Self, Our Most Memorable Writing From 2015.

What’s the most memorable piece of writing you watched, read, or listened to in 2015?

The new year is a few days old and thoughts have already turned to what delights this year will offer, but the Surbiton Writers took no time at all to reveal what writing has stuck in their thinking from last year to this.

Films, books and newspaper columns all figured in our list, showing the diversity of writing out there to choose from and the enormously wide range of taste within our writers group.

What, no Star Wars!!  

Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens

We’ll give you a spoiler. Our list doesn’t include the screenplay of the long anticipated film release of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Carrie said: “as a film fan,  I’d have loved to say this was the most memorable writing of 2015, after all, it was THE go-to film event of the year, but it came quite far down my list and so did Netflix’s House Of Cards Series 3, another must-see.”

Read what Carrie did choose further down the page…

Will your picks be the same as ours…

If you were at a party and someone asked you the same question, what would you say?

Each piece of writing the Surbiton Writers chose wasn’t necessarily first available last year, many being published or released long beforehand.

Regardless of whether our choices ride the curve, they show that good writing has longevity, changes one’s perspective and moves us, altering our inner, imaginative worlds for months after that first watch, listen or read.

Here’s our list. Ta daa!

Janine writes playful and imaginative picture books for the under 5s age group

Her choice was Twan Tan Eng’s ‘The Garden of Evening Mists,’ adding that what stuck with her was the “simply beautiful prose.”

Published in 2012, it was the Malaysian writer’s second novel. Telling the story of Yun Ling Teoh making sense of her experience during WW2, it was short listed for the Man Booker Prize and won the Walter Scott Prize for Historicsearching for sugarman film posteral Fiction.

Peter Wells publishes novels and writes a hugely popular blog  Counting Ducks 

He chose the film Searching For Sugar Man (warning spoilers included):

“..the most striking thing I watched was the film “Searching For Sugar Man” which, as everyone may know, tells the true story of Sixto Rodriguez who, after a period trying to make it in the music industry faded into obscurity and spent the majority of his working life in the construction industry unaware of the fact that he had achieved legendary success in South Africa.

The film tells the story of his rediscovery, and illuminates his supreme modesty and dignity in the face of his growing fame: heart warming on so many levels.”

He reminds me of another man I came across last year, Nick Drake, who took his own life at the age of twenty-six after a shortish period in the music industry were he met with very limited recognition, despair over which may have played a part in his tragic decision.”

Once again, after his death there was a slow discovery of his work which I discovered as part of the soundtrack on a Hollywood film called ” A Perfect Man” which was released in September 2015.”

If you look up the name “Nick Drake” on IMDP you will see his music has featured on many well recognised films in the following twenty years.”

In both cases, as a hopefully creative man, who speaks so much through his writing, both films inspire me with the message that the worth of what you do may not be immediately recognised, and that to persevere is a key ingredient in making your mark. “

Anu is a business journalist, who’s speciality is in change management and often refers to non-fiction writing in her articles. 

Quiet Cover By Susan Cain

She selected another non-fiction book for her memorable read: ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain.

A study of the difference between introversion and extraversion, it explains how the introverted amongst us have unique qualities which are embedded at the level of our brain chemistry.

You could argue that all writers have an introverted side, writing alone and living in a strong inner world is essential.
Accessible and fascinating, Anu described it as: “quite memorable.”

Darren is known for his witty and humorous writing style.

He chose 2 writers who have changed the writing landscape in Britain: Harold Jacobson and Will Self.

However, it was a piece about global warming that changed his attitude towards the race to save the planet.

will-self

“For me it has to be Harold Jacobson from The Saturday Independent, just love his witty style of writing.  I suppose in some ways I base my writing to his. Will Self is another brilliant writer.

As for story that I read this year. Well too many to choose from.”

But if I had to choose one. It would be learning that within 15 years all gas cookers and boilers must be fazed out.  This is supposed to help with climate change! !!!. This can only happen if we are all singing from the same sheet.”

and what did Carrie choose?

It’s not an easy choice,” she said, “but I’d have to say the most personally changing thing I read last year was an article in the Hull Daily Mail from 1931.

Having spent a year or so researching a married couple for a book I’m writing, who have sadly now long died and their family with them, this has been a far more complicated process than programmes like Who Do You Think You Are suggest it is. I’d exhausted all the obvious and not-so-obvious channels so the research had stalled completely.”

Image Courtesy Hull Daily Mail.
Image Courtesy Hull Daily Mail.

Then by accident I found an article in the Daily Mail. It was a feature about a society wedding – their wedding – and there was a beautiful black and white photo of them as well, looking straight at me from the page.”

After reading so much about them, it was the first time I’d seen them in person and I stared back into their faces wanting so much to reach out through the years and talk to them.”

It changed everything and immediately brought them to life. This article reinforced to me how important journalism is to recording events that even on a local level preserve history for generations to come.”

There are our most memorable pieces of writing – what would your choices be?

Tell us whether our list has inspired you to read or watch more.

In the meanwhile we’ve added all of these examples to our growing list of must-read’s for 2016.

If you are interested in joining the Surbiton Writers Group, email surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com

© The Surbiton Writers Group 2016

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