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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Amanda Lourens resenseer Reisiger te perd deur Piet van Rooyen

Reisiger te perdUitspraak: geelwortel

Piet van Rooyen, wat veral ook as romansier bekend is, debuteer in 1973 met Draak op die erf, waarna Rondom ’n boorvuur (1983), Goedsmoeds (2002) en Kwansuis (2008) volg, telkens met redelike lang onderbrekings tussen die onderskeie bundels. Reisiger te perd is volgens my somme dus Van Rooyen se vyfde bundel, eerder as die vierde, soos op die agterblad van die nuwe bundel aangedui word.

Alhoewel Van Rooyen dalk meer bekendheid verwerf het as outeur van bekroonde romans soos Die spoorsnyer (1994) en Die olifantjagters (1997), staan sy bedrewenheid as digter op geen manier terug vir sy vaardigheid as prosateur nie. En daarom is dit jammer dat Van Rooyen se digkuns dalk nog nie werklik die wyer erkenning gekry het wat dit verdien nie.

Boekbesonderhede


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Jan Taljaard resenseer 100 Good Ideas: Celebrating 20 years of democracy deur Brendon Bell-Roberts

100 Good Ideas: Celebrating 20 years of democracyUitspraak: stokkie

Gestel jy het die afgelope 20 jaar ’n Rip van Winkelstet dis nie van winkel nie getrek en nou die dag eers weer wakker geword. Jy gaan aanvanklik dalk sukkel om kop of stert van die politiek uit te maak, maar jy sal ná ’n ruk besef die ANC is baas en die res speel net saam.

Jy gaan egter opdraande kry as jy sou poog om van meet af aan saam met die hipsters in die koffiewinkels oor kontemporêre kultuur te klets.

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Monique Bernic Reviews Dark Whispers by Joanne Macgregor

Dark WhispersVerdict: carrot

This is not your typical horror or whodunit novel. You know from the start who the bad guy is and it creates an tense dance between him and the main character, Megan.

Megan is an interesting character as she is hardly perfect herself and these flaws add to the suspense.

The writing is tidy and the story storms along well, with no time wasted on frilly prose.

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Luke Alfred Reviews Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser

Lost and Found in JohannesburgVerdict: stick

To while away the empty hours of childhood, Mark Gevisser became fascinated with the pages of Holmden’s, a curiously idiosyncratic early Johannesburg street guide. When linked to a trawl through the telephone directory it provided the basic ingredients for a wonderful childhood fantasy called Dispatcher, in which he would pick a random entry from the directory and, using Holmden’s, chart a route from his house to an arbitrary address through the softly spreading city of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sometimes there was no route for Gevisser’s imaginary journey and so Holmden’s was not only fascinating for what it represented but intriguing for pathways it couldn’t provide. Like maps of old, there were inevitably the proverbial sea monsters on the edge of the known world, terra incognita, the enigmatic blankness of nothing.

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Craig Laurence Reviews What’s Gone Wrong? by Alex Boraine

What's Gone Wrong?Verdict: carrot with some criticism

When a current South African political commentary carries the sub-title On the brink of a failed state, it behoves the reader to sit up and take notice. Even more so when the author is Alex Boraine — the former opposition politician, co-founder of IDASA and deputy chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a man whose experience, acumen and humanity have earned him serious credibility.

What’s Gone Wrong? is compelling reading. It adds a significant contribution to the mounting literature from political commentators who are concerned — even shocked and horrified — at the way the ruling party is running roughshod over the South African political landscape.

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#STBooks: Death of a Slightly Ugly American, by Ben Williams

By Ben Williams for The Sunday Times

I’ve often had cause to remark that America’s war in Iraq has turned US citizens abroad into the white South Africans of our day.

We Yanks were hard on pale Saffers who popped up in the States during apartheid. At best we treated them with misgiving — more usually with hostility. Never mind that most were in flight from a racist regime, to us they were a symbol of the ZAR and all that was blighted in it.

Chickens, meet roost. Following George W Bush’s years of carnage and waste, carrying an American accent into foreign parts now comes with extra social risk. Utter the word “aluminum” and brace for reverberations of disdain; say “hold the elevator” and watch the lift doors squeak close before you reach them. If you play your quintessential American cards right — the Jack of Brashness, the King of Irrepressibility, and so on — you’ll find yourself accused, in public, loudly and without irony, of being the CIA.

It’s enough to make you pass for Canadian.

Mind you, some of the most notable Americans abroad have been CIA. This includes a host of writers, one of whom, Peter Matthiessen, died this month aged 86, having led a literary life that positively scintillated.

He’s the only writer to have received the US’s National Book Award for both fiction and non-fiction. Of his novels, two tower above most American literature: At Play in the Fields of The Lord (1965), an unforgettable lesson in the follies of modern Christian missionaries, and Killing Mr Watson (1990), a Florida settler tale that will leave you shaken.

His best-known travel book, The Snow Leopard (1978), has changed the lives of everyone I know who’s read it. Oh, he also founded The Paris Review, one of the most revered literary magazines in history.

He did that while on the payroll of the CIA. No, it was more egregious than that: he did it — founded The Paris Review, that august and storied repository — as cover for his spying, which included reporting on Americans in post-World War 2 France. “It’s the only adventure I regret,” he said much later in life.

Being a spy is the moral equivalent of being a plagiarist. Once you’re revealed, it usually spells the end of your career. That scarlet S stains like blood — it’s the red bulls-eye at which the stones are cast. But Matthiessen escaped the revelation, somehow, with his reputation intact.

On balance, I think that’s fair. It’s easy to judge, but during the Cold War it was also easy to benefit from the CIA’s cultural largesse. Witness the rumours that swirled around Nat Nakasa’s literary magazine The Classic, or the whispers that attended Lewis Nkosi’s The New African. Both were reputedly funded, in part, by America’s spies, although doubtless without their editors’ knowledge. But as with Matthiessen and his Paris Review, the ends overcame the means.

I have a few ideas for a literary magazine, so hereby accept applications for handlers. I have the right accent, after all, and books make for good cover. — books @sundaytimes.co.za @benrwms


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Maggie Marx resenseer Veelvuldige gebruike vir huishoudelike toestelle deur Andries Bezuidenhout

Veelvuldige gebruike vir huishoudelike toestelleUitspraak: wortel

Bezuidenhout – ’n bedryfso­sioloog, skilder, fotograaf, musikant en ook digter – trek al die dimensies van sy bestaan in sy poësie saam en hoewel hy hoofsaaklik van vrye vers gebruik maak, verleen sy verdeling van strofes, die binnerym en sterk ritme wat deurskemer, tog struktuur aan die onderskeie gedigte en die bundel as geheel.

Die openingsvers, “Kombuiskomplot” (9), voer die toon vir Bezuidenhout se poësie in die bundel aan. Met ’n aanhaling uit Cormac McCarthy se The Road (“He’d not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come”) en in die gedig self sinspeel Bezuidenhout nie net op die onsekerheid van die toekoms en selfs die hede nie, maar ook op die verwagting van die toekoms se kontinuïteit.

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Gert van der Westhuizen resenseer Doing Life with Mandela deur Christo Brand en Barbara Jones

Doing Life with MandelaUitspraak: wortel

Sedert sy dood einde verlede jaar het ’n handvol boeke oor oupres. Nelson Mandela reeds die lig gesien en baie sal seker nog in die toekoms op die winkelrakke pryk.

’n  Mens is soms skepties oor sulke boeke omdat jy die idee kry dit word uitgegee net om munt uit die Mandela-naam te slaan. Dit was ook my eerste gedagte toe ek Doing Life with Mandela die eerste keer in ’n boekwinkel sien.

Boekbesonderhede


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Margaret von Klemperer Reviews October by Zoë Wicomb

OctoberVerdict: carrot

It has been a while since we have had a full-length novel from Zoë Wicomb, the South African-born writer who now lives in Glasgow and is emeritus professor at the University of Strathclyde.

Like her creator, Mercia, the central character of October is a Glasgow-based academic, but with roots deep in the dry Namaqualand soil.

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Rian Malan Reviews Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser for The Wall Street Journal

Lost and Found in JohannesburgVerdict: carrot

Ah, the Jews of Johannesburg. They came as refugees, stayed to make money and almost single-handedly turned a crude mining camp into a real city, with left-wing bookstores, symphony orchestras, sophisticated balcony cafes and an intellectual life as rich as any in the Northern Hemisphere.

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