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Carrot! Walter Baker on Trencherman

TrenchermanEben Venter This review is only just a carrot – and that because it certainly isn’t a stick. Reviewer Walter Baker gives a potted synopsis of Trencherman‘s plot, explaining the term “trencherman” – which is certainly interesting and inclines a potential reader to know more.

Baker draws the obvious parallels to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which one can assume is inherently a compliment but isn’t specifically so. It seems churlish to grumble about such a review, but as a reader I find I’m yearning for some added insight that will drive me to read a book.

The review, which is available online for subscribers to in the Pretoria News, was found on the Africa Aviation message board. I can’t quite fathom any obvious connection, unless it is that the message board is peopled by the “I-told-you-so brigade” that Baker refers to:

To Marlouw, the futuristic South Africa is a doomsayer’s nightmare. Everything has imploded due to a civil war – poor electronic communications, a population explosion, and the ravages caused by the Aids pandemic. Despair, neglect, and corruption abound, with some white farmers forming meat producing cartels as food is a scarce commodity.

The journey, in which the meeting with Koert is repeatedly postponed, is a nightmare of Hieronymous Bosch depiction during which Marlouw realises what colonialism, baasskap and his own role, identity and affliction during the period had spawned.

And there can be no happy or satisfactory ending.

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