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Although I may not be in possession of such a fine intellect as Saunders, I have learned to hone and polish the first surge. My first novel, Harvesting, came about in this way.

At first they were a play, then the characters took up the space of short stories and then I allowed the two girls to just speak, to tell their stories however they liked. These free-form monologues became alternating chapters, in what ultimately became the book. Until that day I had no idea of the extent of the industry worldwide at the time there were an estimated 1.

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Figures are currently rising because of the migrant crisis. I also had no idea that Ireland is considered a destination point for traffickers and sex tourists, or that some of the girls are as young as 12 and some of them are Irish. Having completed a feverish first draft, I set out to find experts in the field who would read and comment on the text, and check for any plausibility issues. Because it is written in the first person, present tense, the novel has a kind of immersive, claustrophobic feel, like in a film shot by a single hand-held camera on zoom.

It is experiential and unapologetically real. There is no attempt to write it slant, or to play with form, or dazzle or seduce the reader. What surprised me was that a story took shape in spite of my best efforts not to force one, and that there is dramatic tension and a forward-moving narrative arc. Perhaps my training in drama lent itself to this instinctive drive. After all, if someone is going to sit through an hour or so of dark, disturbing material in the theatre, it has to be presented in a way that is compelling.

Likewise, with a novel, or a story, in any form. I think that director left an indelible impression on me all those years ago: seeking to put yourself at the service of the character means allowing it to take on a life of its own.

If you do that well enough, the humanity, the story, the truth — or something approaching it, devoid of posturing and artifice, at least — will shine through. This was my wish with Harvesting. I can only hope I did these girls a service by channeling their voices in this way. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber. Please subscribe to sign in to comment. We use cookies to personalise content, target and report on ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic.

Kevin MacNeil - A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde

For more information see our Cookie Policy. She explains how a director taught her to get in character and find their voice Wed, Apr 12, , Updated: Wed, Apr 12, , Lisa Harding. More from The Irish Times Books. Finding their place at the heart of Pfizer. The reinvention of customer service experience with applied intelligence. The Story of Home: A bolt from the blue. Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. You should receive instructions for resetting your password.

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Your Comments. Sign In Sign Out. The complete review 's Review :. The Method Actors is a long novel -- nearly five-hundred pages --, a fact that's noteworthy because it doesn't seem to go anywhere, or at least not very far.

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Shuker's presentation -- not strictly chronological -- reinforces the notion, so one imagines it's on purpose, but it doesn't feel entirely right. The central event in the novel is the disappearance of Michael Edwards, which leads to his sister Meredith coming to look for him, and the counterpoint of looking for him in the present and uncovering the past including what Michael was doing up to that point, and what might have led to or caused his disappearance doesn't fully drive the novel, which bogs down instead in lengthy incidental episodes, side-stories that often are all atmosphere and don't move anything much forward.

The Method Actors is a novel of twenty-somethings in Japan, foreigners gaijin in a very foreign land. In generally painstaking detail Shuker describes the foreigners' lives in Tokyo, from those who come over to teach English in the JET programme to the sons and daughters of privilege -- Michael and Meredith, whose father is a New Zealand judge with a penthouse suite in the Shinjuku Prince they can use and Simon, whose entrepreneur-father charges him with dining at the finest restaurants a couple of times a week to look for cooking staff he can poach for his restaurants.

Chapters focus on different characters some of them narrating their own stories, others not , making for perhaps close to a dozen closely observed foreigner-in-Japan accounts in all. The scenes are well-related and detail-focussed, variations on a theme of often damaged people not yet sure of what they want to do with their lives trying to make their way in unreal Tokyo.

The Method Actors - Carl Shuker

Shuker could have built his whole novel around that and at times it seems like he wants to , but he also has much grander ambitions. Specifically, there's Michael. Though a poor student it turns out he is very gifted and has, for years, been obsessed with history, writing a seminal paper on the Nanking Massacre that was published when he was still just in his teens.

In one of the few unrealistic touches Shuker has the paper reprinted in The New Republic , covering pages "", but it's a magazine that rarely tops fifty pages total in length, and wouldn't print a piece of such length.

The Method Actors

Michael's thesis is a fascinating one, and his ideas on history something that one wishes Shuker had focussed on more intently. As is, there are only tantalizing digressions or hints a summary of his publishing-history, for example , Shuker on the whole preferring to focus on far less interesting day-to-day lives of his many characters to make his point.

History continues to play a role -- specifically, then, early Western contacts with Japan -- but this far more compelling part of the narrative is decidedly the second tier. Michael's massacre-thesis also ties in with the book's other major preoccupation: mushrooms, specifically those with mind-altering effects. This part of the story brings in Yasu, the one prominent Japanese character, a disgraced mycologist whose promising career was ruined by a foreigner and who now grows mushrooms at home. Again Shuker wallows in detail making for a mycologist's dream: rarely has fungus-growing been more lovingly and meticulously been described , and again he tells the story in a roundabout way, with the reasons for Yasu's disgrace, for example, only being revealed very late on.

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  6. The details are often impressive: Shuker sets neat scenes, and accurately portrays so many different aspects of the Japan-experience, but often they seem to little end.