The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza, by Cyril Wong
[Image courtesy of Epigram Books]
Another local book by Cyril Wong. It’s a novel this time, albeit a short one.
The plot was predictable, but I think credit must be given for the way Wong has crafted the entire tale, from the way Mrs De Souza’s story was drawn out, to the way different strands of emotion were injected into the storytelling. I really like how Wong has so aptly described the way one’s perception and memory of events can be shaped by one’s biases and beliefs, and can therefore end up being highly unreliable.
Yet, I’m not sure Cyril Wong will ever be one of my favourite local authors, either because of the constant melancholy I feel whenever I read his works, or because of the themes he usually chooses for his stories. I do appreciate good humour and playful jabs at the ironies in life sometimes, and that seems to be missing in Wong’s writings. But I suppose that’s just a matter of style and personal preferences. Wong probably just has something different to say, and that something does not resonate as strongly with me.
VERDICT: If you had tried “Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me” and had liked the short stories, this longer story is written in a similar style and might appeal to you.