Loss of His Own Identity by Cerian Griffiths

Loss of His Own Identity

Loss of His Own IdentityProject description: Five page Film As Text Essay, Screen Education Magazine, Issue 62, Winter 2011

Essay Extract: Loss of his own identity is What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

For most young people, the move into adulthood isn’t always easy. The difficulty often lies in letting go of childhood. Childhood generally represents freedom from responsibility, long summer days, no pressure, food provided and washing done. Then high school begins, education escalates, and teenagers experience the pressures of exams and drive to succeed. There may be summer jobs, perhaps university, or straight into the work force.

At some point, a young person is usually faced with the decision of leaving the family home and providing for themselves, taking full responsibility for their choices. Sometimes they may work for a few years, then go travelling, see the world, before focusing on a career. More often than not, when someone reaches adulthood, at least to a certain degree, they are free to decide for themselves which path their life will traverse.

Imagine then, believing you have no freedom to influence the direction your life is taking, no ability to choose for yourself, to walk away from the family home and responsibility, that you are completely powerless to alter your own path. Such is the situation the title character finds himself in, in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Lasse Hallström, 1993).

Please refer to Screen Education Magazine for the complete essay.

A Few Words for My Beloved Cat….

My arms are empty
My lap is bare
I wonder if you are where
The flowers bloom
The sun does shine
I wonder if you were ever mine
Or if you just passed by
A sleek cat in the night
I wonder about your eyes so bright
And how the lights dimmed down
When you were put to sleep
I wonder if you know how hard I weep
For you my dearest feline friend
And all your wondrous furry bliss
I wonder if you know how much I miss
Your quiet patters on the floor
The way you snuggled on my chest
I wonder did you know how blessed
We were to have you in our lives
You have been such a magical cat
I hope you truly understood that

You were profoundly loved, and adored
It was almost impossible to cut the cord.

Why literature can bridge divides…

Whilst working on a recent contract (the appraisal, and proofreading of – a wonderful manuscript compiled by the grand-daughter of a Polish Jew, who maintained an astonishing sense of humor in the face of severe adversity, particularly during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904) – it’s occurred to me that, regardless of religious background, or participation in war in a military capacity, and the great divide of nations, so many of us share the commonality of having been raised, through, and beyond, poverty and hardship. Many of us either are able to remember our grandparents who lived during the early 1900’s, or, perhaps if not remember them personally (or even getting the chance to meet them), are at least familiar with their (and therefore our own) history. Often this equates to hearing the stories through your parents, or uncles, or aunties. Sometimes, we’ve been lucky enough to hear them directly for ourselves from the source. Sometimes, it is actually the hardship of our own parents that is more pronounced, simply through being able to hear it discussed first hand.

This is why the art of Biography, Memoir, Autobiography and Creative Non-Fiction is so important. In general (at least in Western Society), the habit of verbal story telling, the Bard, the folk-tales around the fire, which was once so important – and in fact, the only means of passing on the history of a family or clan, or tribe – is now a dying art.

In those early twentieth century days – modern medicine had only just begun to achieve great results. Tuberculosis was still rife. My three year old aunty died of it, my grandfather died when my father was only four years old. My father and uncle themselves, were also threatened by TB.

As with other families, world over, my descendants resided in small confined spaces, and tried to get by as best they could. This involved, finally, my father leaving, and joining the Merchant Navy, aged 14.

So much of this manuscript – The Accidental Anarchist (Bryna Kranzler) – resonates with me personally. And I know it is going to resonate with so many people in the general public, Jewish, or otherwise.

We all face a certain amount of hardship, some more than others – and in modern western society – it is far more likely to be our forbears who have suffered more than ourselves. Whereas in less advantaged societies, third world countries etc – the stories are probably worse than those of my grandmother’s.

Though of course a huge function of the written word in book form, is entertainment, books can also inform and bridge a vast cultural divide… and make the world a smaller place.

Next time… not so serious. 🙂 Moving on to exciting fiction.


Sky of Red Poppies by Zohreh Ghahremani

Sky of Red Poppies
Project description: Completed a mid-level copy edit on this terrific novel.

Find it on Amazon

Sky of Red Poppies begins with a casual friendship between two schoolgirls coming of age in a politically divided 1960’s Iran under rule of the Shah. Roya, the daughter of a prominent family, is envious of the fierce independence of her religious classmate Shireen. But Shireen has secrets of her own. Together, Roya and Shireen contend with becoming the women they want to be, and in doing so, make decisions that will cause their tragic undoing. In the unraveling of family secrets, Roya begins to question how she was raised and how to become the person she wishes to be. Set against the backdrop of a nation forced to mute its profound identity, Sky of Red Poppies is a novel about culture, politics and the redeeming power of friendships.

The Accidental Anarchist by Bryna Kranzler

The Accidental Anarchist

Project Description: Completed a manuscript appraisal, followed by mid-level copy edit on this wonderful book.

Bryna Kranzler,The Accidental Anarchist, April 2010: “I hadn’t been planning to hire an editor to read my book, and had little time or money to commit for it. I asked for a “top level” review — what works, what doesn’t work, where can I cut, what do I need to add, etc. Cerian read the description of what I wanted, we discussed it, and she sent me a report of that type that she had written for someone else, which made clear she understood what I needed. She was also sensitive to my compressed time frame. Her final report definitely showed that she “got” it. I have already hired her a second time, this time to proofread the manuscript, and have referred one of my writer friends to her, without reservation. She is not only excellent at what she does, but cares about the work, itself, and the person behind it. A real gem; I feel lucky to have found her.”

Find it on Amazon

The Accidental Anarchist

Book Description
By the time he was twenty-five years old, Jacob Marateck had been a Jewish officer in the notoriously anti-Semitic Russian army during the Russo-Japanese War, a revolutionary who sought to overthrow the Czar, and sentenced to death three times. After avoiding the firing squad for the final, unlikely time, he escaped from a Siberian forced labor camp with Warsaw’s colorful “King of Thieves.” Together, the two struggled to survive and obtain false papers to travel home while avoiding the Secret Police. Told from Marateck’s uniquely humorous perspective, The Accidental Anarchist is the remarkable, true story of an ordinary man made extraordinary by participating in the history-making events of the 1900s in Russia and Poland. Throughout all the hardships he endured, he never lost his optimism, which was key to his survival.

Driving Straight on Crooked Lines by Jack Keogh

Driving Straight on Crooked Lines

Project Description: Completed a substantive line-by-line edit on this lengthy memoir.

Jack Keogh, International Management Consultant and author, March 2010: “Cerian did an absolutely marvelous job editing my memoirs. Not only did Cerian edit out the extraneous text, she improved the flow of the narratives, eliminated my abuse of passive-voice and turned my original into a more “professional’ document. She made the manuscript more readable while always remaining faithful to my voice. She is extremely easy to work with, organized, intelligent, responsive and punctual. She took the time to understand me and the ‘background” to my story. I recommend her wholeheartedly – even though we are continents apart, I feel that we got to know each other. Contact me if you need more. Thank you, Cerian!”

Find it on Amazon

Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mindBook Description

Driving Straight On Crooked Lines is Jack Keogh’s inspiring autobiography, covering the twenty years of his life from adolescence in Dublin, Ireland, to adulthood as a Catholic Priest in the Legion of Christ, and onwards: transitioning to a new life as husband, father, and international management consultant. For twenty years, Jack’s life was intertwined with the Legion, and its controversial founder Marcial Maciel. Both the Legion, and Maciel feature in this memoir, but it is not about them. Rather, this is Jack’s story. As such, it is told with candor, a sparkle in the eye, plenty of blarney, and Irish good humor. Spanning locations across the globe, this memoir gives insight to the inner workings of what some see as a religious cult, and to the inner thoughts of a former priest. It tells how an Irishman found his heart, and in doing so, nearly lost his mind. It is often moving, frequently funny, very entertaining, and always memorable.

%d bloggers like this: