Martin Mandel's Parabola Critique by Ginny Swart

Story Name: Martin Mandel's Parabola

Author:   Ashley Symes

Assessor:   Ginny Swart

Date: 2 June 2009


This was a wonderful story on every level and a worthy winner of the competition.  It is a perceptive study of an elderly man and his thoughts on his mortality and that of his friend.

The entire story takes place in the period of his gym workout. There is no intriguing plot or in fact any high point but his thoughts and observations make compulsive reading. The writer has given us a glimpse of his background, his children and his career as a doctor and along the way we have learnt his views on life, as well as a lot about him as a person.

The style of writing is assured, and the writer presumes his reader to be as intelligent as she is. The language used perfectly reflected the character of Martin Mandel, with a deliberate, unhurried style. This reminded me of writings from some turn-of the-century essayist. 

There are really no criticisms I can make about this story.  It's just a very, very good piece of work and I have to ask, how come Ashley Symes hasn't published her stories before? Maybe this will be a spur to submit pieces like this to anthologies or literary magazines overseas. 

Follow us on Facebook Join us on Twitter


Click here to pay with PayPal

Pay via Mastercard
Click here to pay with VISA


About Us

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers in South Africa. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice.


Study from anywhere in South Africa: Cape Town, Western Cape; Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng; Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal; Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape; Bloemfontein, Free State; Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Kimberley, Northern Cape and Polokwane, Limpopo.

Contact Us

Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout
Email: [email protected]

You can also leave a voice message on 021 813 9224 and we will phone you back within one working day.

9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Work for Us

Vacancies at SAWC

Writing Services