Die boek van gelukkige eindes

deur Debbie Loots, Quellerie, 2019

Vir wat vir hom soos ’n ewigheid voel, sit hy daar op die ongemaklike bleddie stoel, en rook. Die dokter sê niks, kyk by die venster uit, in ʼn trance, sy kop duidelik weer op ʼn ander plek. Toe kom iets by hom op.’n Gedagte. Nee, iets heavier, ʼn besef. Hy sien dit glashelder in sy kop, terwyl hy so sit en kyk na die vas-aan-die-slaap-shrink. Hy besef dat hy, nes hy en sy broer destyds met sy sussie gemaak het, verniet agter Jenna aangehardloop het. Hy sien hoe hy haar jaag soos hy sy broer gejaag het. Hy sien hoe hy in sy broer se nek geblaas het, probeer bybly het, hoe hy sy rug so krom getrek het as hy naby genoeg was, hoe hy hom moes trip, hom moes laat val om by te hou. En hoe harder hy probeer het, hoe minder kon hy raakvat.

Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng

deur Etienne van Heerden, Tafelberg, 2017

Die jag is volmaak; elke woord is syne, elke uitgekerfde naam hier teen die selmure, elke gekrabbel met ʼn spyker of met ʼn lepelsteel, met ʼn koffiebeker se handvatsel of met die harde nael van ʼn arbeider, elke naam behoort aan hom, dit is sy alfabet en sy storie. Hy verstaan als. Hy is met almal wat hierdie letters gekerf het saam in die groot oopte. Heerlik is die wind en die afstande, die plek van stories, die geroesemoes van bloed en moontlikheid; die jag is volmaak.

The Afterlife

by John Updike, from The Afterlife and Other Stories, Penguin Books, 1994

Carter had been nodding off, and the emphasized words pierced his doze. He felt he had been useful enough, in his life, and had seen enough people. At the office now – he was a lawyer – he was conscious of a curious lag, like the lag built into radio chat shows so that obscenities wouldn’t get on the air. Just two or three seconds, between challenge and response, between achievement and gratification, but enough to tell him something was out of sync. He was going through the motions, and all the young people around him knew it. When he spoke, his voice sounded dubbed, not quite his own. There were, it had recently come to him, vast areas of the world he no longer cared about – Henry James, for example, and professional ice hockey, and nuclear disarmament. He did not doubt that within these areas much excitement could be generated, but not for him, nevermore. The two women in front f him – Lucy’s strawberry-blond braids twitching as she emphasized a point and Jane’s grey-peppered brunette curls softly bouncing as she nodded in eager empathy – seemed alien creatures, like the horse, or the marsh tit with his little black-capped head. The two wives sounded as stirred-up and twittery as if their lives had just begun  – as if courtship and husbands and childbearing were a preamble to some triumphant menopausal ministry among the disenfranchised and incestuous. They loved each other, Carter reflected wearily. Women had the passion of conspirators, the energy of any underground, supplied by hope of seizing power. Lucy seemed hardly to notice, while talking and counselling Jane, that she had more than once steered around the wreckage of tree limbs littering the road. Through the car windows Carter watched trees thrash in odd slow motion and overhead wires sway as if the earth itself had lost its moorings.

Gedeeltelik bewolk

deur Ruan Kemp, Tafelberg, 2019

Namate Griet opswel, verdiep George hom in sy werk, vind fout met ander mense se skryfwerk, trek die splinters uit, skaaf die balk gelyk. George redigeer artikels vir Die alternatiewe koerant, vir Denkersforum, vir Die Nuwe Groep, vir die Broederbond, vir die Dorpertelersvereniging, vir sielkundeprofessore wat nie kan spel nie. Gewigtge artikels oor skaapgenerasies wat terugslaan, kolle uitslaan, artikels oor bewussynsbedrog, oor geveinsde gevoelens, oor voorstelle vir ʼn nuwe grondwet, oor Dakar, oor konsepriglyne vir die staatkundige gesprek, oor die sondes van die vaders. George lees nie wat hy nasien nie, steur hom nie aan die liggaam nie maar aan die gebreklikheid van die ledemate, spelfoute soos miere. Wanneer Griet haar mond oopmaak, redigeer hy haar.

Smit Motors

deur Réney Warrington, Wenkbrou, 2019

Sy stap oor die werkswinkel se stoep om by die staaldeure uit te kom. Sy skop per ongeluk iets, buk en skakel haar foon se flitslig aan. ‘n Dooie duif is seker nie ‘n totaal vreemde verskynsel nie. Petra gril en tree terug. Sy trap op iets sponserig en vermoed dit is ‘n tweede dooie duif. Sy skyn die flits oor die stoep en tree terug tot sy die koel vensters agter haar rug voel. Daar lê ‘n stuk of twintig dooie duiwe.

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad, Penguin Books, 1973

It had become so pitch dark that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time already he, sitting apart, had been no more to us than a voice. There was not a word from anybody. The others might have been asleep, but I was awake. I listened, I listened on the watch for the sentence, for the word, that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river.

Hyperion

by Dan Simmons, Doubleday, 1989

The twentieth century’s most honoured writer, William Gass, once said in an interview,’Words are the supreme object. They are minded things.’ And so they are … But they are also pitfalls of deceit and misperception. Words bend our thinking to infinite paths of self-delusion, and the fact that we spend most of our mental lives in brain mansions built of word means that we lack the objectivity necessary to see the terrible distortion of reality which language brings. Example: the Chinese pictogram for “honesty” is a two-part symbol of a man literally standing next to his word. So far, so good. But what does the Late English word ‘integrity’ mean? Or ‘Motherland’? Or ‘progress’? Or ‘democracy’?” Or ‘beauty’? But even in our self-deception, we become gods.

Fiela se kind

deur Dalene Matthee, Tafelberg, 1985

ʼn Tak het skielik regs van hulle in die Bos geskeur. Naby. Die volgende een het soos ʼn geweerskoot geklap. Olifante! het hy instinktief geweet en geskrik. Voor hom het Nina se lyf tot waaksaamheid verstar. Hy het gesien hoe sy vinnig die wind se rigting in die boomtoppe soek en toe omdraai en beduie dat hy doodstil moes bly. ʼn Loerie het hoog bokant hulle koppe begin kok-kok-kok, opgehou, weer begin. Nog ʼn tak het gebreek en repe bas is met skeurgeluide afgetrek en afgeruk: dit was duidelik dat daar meer as een olifant was.

Independence Day

by Richard Ford, The Harvill Press, 1995

The matter of greater magnitude and utmost importance though, involves my son, Paul Bascombe, who is fifteen. Two and  a half months ago, just after tax time and six weeks before his school year ended in Deep River, he was arrested for shoplifting three boxes of 4X condoms (“Magnums”) from a display-dispenser in the Finast down in Essex. His acts were surveilled by an “eye in the sky” camera hidden above the male hygiene products. And when a tiny though uniformed Vietnamese security person (a female) approached him just beyond the checkout, where as a diversionary tactic he’d bought a bottle of Grecian Formula, he bolted but was wrestled to the ground, whereupon he screamed that the woman was “a goddamned spick asshole,” kicked her in the thigh, hit her in the mouth (conceivably by accident) and pulled out a fair amount of hair before she could apply a police stranglehold and with the help of a pharmacist and another customer get the cuffs on him. (His mother had him out in an hour.)

Die helaasheid van die dinge

deur Dimitri Verhulst, Protea, 2018

Maar sonder dat ek die wetenskaplikes van die toekoms by voorbaat wil onderskat, dink ek nie hulle sal oor die tegnieke beskik om vas te stel dat hulle skelet die eienaar van ʼn kroeg was en dat dit ʼn man met waansinnige idees was nie. Niemand daar sal ooit weet dat Omer eenkeer ʼn wedren vir kaal fietsryers georganiseer het as promosiefoefie vir sy kroeg nie. ʼn Deel van die dorpsbevolking was briesend, nie in die eerste plek omdat kaalryery op ʼn fiets as ʼn aanslag op die goeie sedes beskou word nie, maar omdat die wedren gery is in die afgeleë buurt van die kerkhof. Die priester se invloed was verrassend nog groot genoeg en die simpatie van die polisie vir hierdie projek dermate omvangryk dat die veertien goddelose deelnemers uiteindelik in hulle onderbroeke by die wegspringplek verskyn het. ʼn Kompromis, is dit genoem, die skeiding tussen kerk en staat was nie dikker as ʼn onderbroek nie. My pa het toe verdienstelik tweede gekom onder groot belangstelling van die talryke toeskouers, want hy het wel sterk bene gehad.