The Crooked Branch
by Jeanine Cummins, Tinder Press, 2013
It all happened in one night. One wicked, godforsaken night in August, and they wouldn’t believe it. The way they took to their heels in the evening, and everything was grand and ordinary. They’d already been hungry for a year; they were getting by; hanging on for the coming crop. So that whole doomed island of people, they slept, naïve in their myriad dreams. Their limbs tangled around lovers, their sleeping children twitching and murmuring nearby, the dying turf-fire shadows stretching along the thatching above. They slept.
Report on the Shadow Industry
by Peter Carey, from Collected Stories, Faber and Faber, 1995
My friend S. went to live in America ten years ago and I still have the letter he wrote when he first arrived, wherein he describes the shadow factories that were springing up on the west coast and the effects they were having on that society. “You see people in dark glasses wandering around the supermarkets at 2a.m. There are great boxes all along the aisles, some as expensive as 50 dollars but most of them only five. There’s always Muzak. It gives me the shits more than the shadows. The people don’t look at one another. They come to browse through the boxes of shadows although the packets give no indication of what’s inside. It really depresses me to think of people going out at two in the morning because they need to try their luck with a shadow. Last week I was in a supermarket near Topanga and I saw an old Negro near the end of a shadow box. He was arrested almost immediately.”
That Old Cape Magic
by Richard Russo, Vintage Books, 2010
Though the digital clock on the bedside table in his hotel room read 5:17, Jack Griffin, suddenly wide awake, knew he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. He’d allowed himself to drift off too early the night before. On the heels of wakefulness came an unpleasant realization, that what he hadn’t wanted to admit yesterday, even to himself , was all too clear in the solitary, predawn dark. He should have swallowed his petulance and waited the extra day for Joy.
by Julian Barnes, opening tale in A History of the World in 10 and a half chapters, Picador, 1989
They put the behemoths in the hold along with the rhinos, the hippos and the elephants. It was a sensible decision to use them as ballast; but you can imagine the stench. And there was no-one to muck out. The men were overburdened by the feeding rota, and their women, who under those leaping fire-tongues of scent no doubt reeked as badly as we did, were far too delicate. So if any mucking-out was to happen, we had to do it ourselves. Every few months they would winch back the thick hatch on the aft deck and let the cleaner-birds in. Well, first they had to let the smell out (and there weren’t too many volunteers for winch-work); then six or eight of the less fastidious birds would flutter cautiously around the hatch for a minute or so before diving in. I can’t remember what they were all called – indeed, one of those pairs no longer exists – but you know the sort I mean. You’ve seen hippos with their mouths open and bright little birds pecking away between their teeth like distraught dental hygienists? Picture that on a larger, messier scale. I am hardly squeamish, But even I used to shudder at the scene below decks, a row of squinting monsters being manicured in a sewer.
Die maatskaplike werker
deur Marlize Hobbs, uit Flarde, ŉ Novelle, Genugtig, 2005
Mama Minota is ŉ versriklike vet vrou. Toe sy by die dubbeldeure van my broer se Mawethu Butchery and General Dealers instap, word dit donker binne – asof ŉ dik donderwolk voor die son inskuif. Sy waggel van een plomp been na die ander en gaan staan onder die dakwaaier met haar atms op haar heupe, sodat haar kieliebakke kan afkoel.
Love in a Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Penguin, 1989
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley, Penguin Modern Classics, 1955
A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys. Over the main entrance the words CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
deur Anton Roodt, Tafelberg, 2020
“Jirre, Justus, b-b-besef jy die implikasie van Snyman se f-f-foto?” Kolonel Rooipiet Moolman gryp die skouers vas van die man wat uitgesak in sy helpsmoue voor hom in sy kantoor sit en skud hom dat sy wangplooie tril. “Ons fees se boodskap van versoening is tot dusver deur mense verkondig, maar nou … nou bring die engele die annuns-s-siasie d-direk van God af! Perfek, Justus, perfek!” Justus se lyf laat hom aan ŉ styfgepropte army-balsak vol vuil wasgoed dink. Die ene knoppe en bulte.
deur Deon Meyer, Human & Rousseau, 2020
Kaptein Bennie Griesel hoor die dringende voetval en die noodkreet; sy Valke-kollega Vusi Ndabeni roep hulle moet kom, hulle moet kom, daar’s ŉ transito-rooftog, nóú.
Die heelal op my tong
deur Anoeschka von Meck, Penguin Fiksie, 2020
My lyf en my gees pas nie bymekaar nie. Dit is wat pa van my gesê het. Die man wat soms die emosionele koëffisiënt van roereier gehad het. Veral as dit by homself of sy eie kinders gekom het. Tog was pa dié slag reg soos hy dikwels wel sy teiken getref het. Pa was ŉ uitmuntende skut. ŉ Wafferse cock-and fire.
The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James, Penguin Classics, 1993
The story has held us, around the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as on a Christmas Eve in an old house a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no commitment uttered till somebody happened to note as the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. The case, I may mention, was that of an apparition in just such an old house as had gathered us for the occasion – an appearance, of a dreadful kind, to a little boy sleeping in the room with his mother and waking her up in the terror of it, waking her not to dissipate his dread and soothe him to sleep again, but to encounter also herself, before she had succeeded in doing so, the same sight that had shocked him. It was this observation that drew from Douglas – not immediately, but later in the evening – a reply that had the interesting consequence to which I call attention. Someone else told a story not particularly effective, which I saw he was not following. This I took for a sign that he himself had a story to produce and that we should only have to wait. We waited in fact till two nights later, but that same evening, before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind.
True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey, Faber and Faber, 2000
By dawn at least half the members of the Kelly gang were badly wounded and it was then that the creature appeared from behind police lines. It was nothing human, that much was evident. It had no head but a very long thick neck and an immense chest and it walked with a slow ungainly gait directly into a hail of bullets. Shot after shot was fired without effect and the figure continued to advance on the police, stopping every now and then to move its headless neck slowly and mechanically around.
by Don DeLillo, Penguin, 1971
Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Lights were strung across the front of every shop. Men selling chestnuts wheeled their smoky carts. In the evenings the crowds were immense and traffic built to a tidal roar. The santas of Fifth Avenue rang their little bells with an odd sad delicacy, as if sprinkling salt on some brutally spoiled piece of meat. Music came from all the stores in jingles, chants and hosannas, and from the Salvation Army bands came the martial trumpet lament of ancient Christian legions. It was a strange sound to hear in that time and place, the smack of cymbals and high-collared drums, a suggestion that children were being scolded for bottomless sin, and it seemed to annoy people. But the girls were lovely and undismayed, shopping in every mad store, striding through those magnetic twilights like drum majorettes, tall and pink, bright packages cradled to their tender breasts. The blind man’s German Shepherd slept through it all.
Here We Are
by Graham Swift, Scribner, 2020
Jack paused in the wings. He knew how to delay his entrance by just the critical number of seconds. He was calm. He was twenty-eight, but he was already a veteran, twelve years on stage, not counting a year and a half in the army. Timing was in the blood, think about it and you were lost.
by John Updike, Penguin, 1995
Black is a shade of brown. So is white, if you look. On Copacabana, the most democratic, crowded, and dangerous of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, all colors merge into the joyous sun-tanned flesh-color, ccoating the sand with a second, living skin.
The Living and the Dead
by Patrick White, Vintage, 1996
Outside the station, people settled down again to being emotionally commonplace. There was very little to distinguish the individual feature in the flow of faces. Certainly it was night, but even where a wave of neon washed across the human element, it uncovered no particular secret, just the uniform white, square or oblong, tinged for a moment with the feverish tones of red or violet. In the same way his ears took sound, but selected no predominant note out of the confused stream, taxis unsticking their tires from the wet surface of the street, the rumbling of the buses. All this was so much prevalent, and yet irrelevant sound. Like the drifting faces, a dim, surrounding presence, almost dependent on his train of thought for its existence there in the darkness. It was better like this, he felt, escaped only a couple of minutes from the too intimate glimpses, the emotional sharps of the railway platform. It was better to swim in the sea that was anybody’s London. The personal was glimpsed by Eden’s face that last moment on that receding train.
deur Helena Hugo, Lux Verbi, 2020
Janine is terug op die strand van haar kinderdae. Sy lig haar ken en kyk oor die see tot sy nie meer kan sien waar die water eindig en die lug begin nie. Daar agter die horison, het sy gedink, sal haar grootmenslewe begin. Dit het, maar nie soos sy gedroom het nie. Sy is een en twintig jaar en ses maande oud, moeg geleef en afhanklik van aalmoese. Nogtans is sy dankbaar en tel sy haar seëninge: “Dankie, Here! Dankie vir Jenny en Riekie en dat U ons huis toe gebring het. Dankie vir oupa Koen, ouma Leen en Jessie.”
Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger, Hamish Hamilton, 1951
If you realy want to know about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents are occupied and all that David Copperflield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it. In the first place, that kind of stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two haemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They’re nice and all – I’m not saying that – but they’re also touchy as hell. Besides, I’m not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that’s all I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and all. He’s in Hollywood. That isn’t too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week-end. He’s going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of dough now.He didn’t use to. He used, to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was ‘The Secret Goldfish’. It was about this little kid that wouldn’t let anybody look at his goldfish because he’d bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. There’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.
Patron Saint of Liars
by Ann Patchett, Fourth Estate, 1992
Two o’ clock in the morning, a Thursday morning, the first bit of water broke through the ground of George Clatterbuck’s back pasture in Habit, Kentucky, and not a living soul saw it. Spring didn’t care. Water never needed anyone’s help to come up through the ground once it was ready. There are rivers, hundreds of them, running underground all the time, and because of this a man can say he is walking on water. There was a hot spring that had broken loose of its river to make mud in the grass, and it kept on till it was a clear pool and then a little creek, cutting out a snake’s path toward the Panther River. Water will always seek out its own.
by Jeanine Cummins, Tinder Press, 2019
One of the very first bullets comes in through the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing. He doesn’t immediately understand that it’s a bullet at all, and it’s only luck that it doesn’t strike him between the eyes. Luca hardly registers the mild noise it makes as it flies past and lodges in the tiled wall behind him. But the wash of bullets that follows is loud, booming, and thudding, clack-clacking with helicopter-speed. There is a raft of screams, too, but that noise is short-lived, soon exterminated by the gunfire. Before Luca can zip his pants, lower the lid, climb up to look out, before he has time to verify that terrible clamor, the bathroom door swings open and Mami is there.
deur Anzil Kulsen, Lux Verbi, 2020
Sy staal haarself toe sy linkerhand uitskiet en sy vingers om haar arm krul; Hy is buite homself van woede. “Jy maak my seer,” kners sy tussen haar tande deur. Dit was ŉ goeie aand tot nou, voor hy hom vir haar vererg het.
Die kleinste ramp denkbaar
deur Francois Smith, Tafelberg, 2020
Hy het lank daaroor gedink as ŉ storie oor ŉ goeie dokter en ŉ slegte polisieman; soms ook as die verhaal van hoekom hy opgehou het om na Mahler te luister. Nie dat dit hom help om uit te kom by presies wat gebeur het en waarom daardie naweek se dinge so ŉ uitwerking op hom gehad het nie. Al wat hy met ŉ mate van stelligheid kon sê, is dat die gebeure te make het met hoekom hy ná sewe en twintig jaar besluit het om weg te gaan van die dorp waar hy grootgeword het.
Die Verlore Seun Vannie Gaatjie
deur Ivor Swartz, Lux Verbi, 2020
Die gelykenis wat Jesus in Lukas 15 vertel, die een van die verlore seun, was nog altyd vir my ŉ fassinerende, ŉ na-aan-die-hart en ŉ too-close-to-home storie. Selfs in my dae voor ek ŉ Jesus-volgeling was, het hierdie storie my aangegryp op ŉ manier wat min ander stories kon regkry. Ek het myself daarin gesien nog lank voordat ek geweet het ek is daarin. Ek lees dit steeds oor en oor. Dis soos my go-to-storie om te lees.
deur Odette Schoeman, Kwela Boeke, 2009
Ek gee die zol vir my boetie terug en kyk hoe hy dit stewig tussen sy duim en wysvinger vasvat voor hy dit na sy mond toe lig. Sy oë is op skrefies en sy wange trek hol terwyl hy die rook diep in sy longe intrek, ŉ rukkie inhou, en dan stadig uitblaas.
deur SD Fourie, Protea, 2020
“Sophie! Sophie, word wakker!” Sy word traag wakker. Die beddegoed is knus en warm en sy kruip dieper onder die komberse in. Vaagweg, tussen slaap en wakker, hoor sy die wind raas in die melkhoutbome, die reën op die klipstoep neerstort en die veraf gedreun van die donderweer. Sy voel hoe haar voete die grond verlaat. Sy vlieg weer. Lig soos ŉ veertjie dwarrel sy hoër en hoër bokant die plaaswerf, oor die Prampiesberge na die binneland. Swaai oor die blink streep van die Uylenkraalsrivier, oor die hoë duin na die sandstrand van Holbaai. Die seewind roer haar hare, die seesproei ysig teen haar gesig.
by David Mitchell, Sceptre, 2004
Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent foortprints. Through rotting kelp, sea coconuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a white man, his towzers and Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shovelling & sifting the cindery sand with a tea-spoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate , or isle so remote one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, ‘tis not down on any map I saw.
deur Jaco Fouché, Human & Rousseau, 2020
Ek skat ek is aanspreeklik. Dis ŉ lastige vermoede, die soort wat ŉ mens voortydig met verwagtinge van verpligting opsaal, en tog ook die soort gedagte wat nie vreemd behoort te wees vir ŉ vyftigjarige man nie. Met die jare stapel die slegte gevoelens immers op, saam met slegte herinneringe.
deur Engela Ovies, Human & Rousseau, 2020
Tjoef-tjaf, tjoef-tjaf klink my voetstappe op die nat gruis. Ek trek die mus dieper oor my kop sodat my ore heeltemal toe is. Ek is nou spyt ek het die kortpaadjie gevat oor dit korter is.
by Michel Houellbecq, Vintage, 2007
The first of July fell on a Wednesday. So although it was a little unusual, Djerzinski organised his leaving drinks for Tuesday evening. Bottles of champagne nestled among containers of frozen embryos in the large Brandt refrigerator usually filled with chemicals.
The Lantern Men
by Elly Griffiths, Quercus,2020
She has been walking for a long time. It’s funny but she hadn’t thought that there was so much space in England. The map, which she printed out in the library at school, seemed to show the youth hostel here, somewhere in this sea of green, but now that she’s walking, in her special shoes with her backpack on, there’s no sign of any buildings anywhere. Her phone is out of battery and she feels very alone. All she can do is keep walking.
The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie, Viking, 1988
To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens. ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Takathun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again …’ Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.
Om ’n mens na te boots
deur Jeanne Goosen, Haum-Literêr, 1975
Ons het die hele nag oor die blou stasiewa gestry. ’n Voertuig was vir ons ’n noodsaaklike skakel met die buitewêreld en ons het saam besluit om dit aan te skaf. Dit was ’n winskopie en in ’n puik toestand. Maar die stasiewa het ook nuwe probleme gebring. “Sê nou net die wa gaan staan,” roer ek die aand die ding aan wat my nou al bewerig van bekommernis het. “Ons is meer as 30 kilometer van die naaste motorhawe.”
Goeiemôre, mnr. Mandela
deur Zelda la Grange, Penguin, 2014
Ek is op 29 Oktober 1970 in Boksburg, oos van Johannesburg, gebore en ek is nie gelos om te sterf nie, maar om iets goeds van my lewe te maak, soos die meeste babas wat die wêreld binnekom.
deur Alex Eliseev, Pan Macmillan South Africa 2017
The R59 highway out of Johannesburg enters another gentle bend as Conway spots the blue, red and white glow of the Engen 1-Stop petrol station and the dark outline of the Blockhouse watchtower, a lingering ghost from a forgotten battlefield, once used to guard a railway running across the Highveld.
The Boy on the Bridge
deur M.R. Carey, Orbit, 2017
The bucks have all been passed and the arguments thrashed out until they don’t even bleed any more. Finally, after a hundred false starts, the Rosalind Franklin begins her northward journey – from Beacon on the south coast of England all the way to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. There aren’t many who think she’ll make it that far, but they wave off with bands and garlands all the same. They cheer the bare possibility.
Die verdriet van België
deur Hugo Claus, vertaal deur Daniel Hugo, Protea 2020
Dondeyne het een van die sewe Verbode Boeke onder sy hemp weggesteek en Louis saamgelok. Hulle sit nou onder die slingerplante van Bernadette Soubirous se grot.
Byleveld, Dossier of a Serial Sleuth
deur Hanlie Retief, Umuzi 2011
Sixteen year old David Sehmel is standing at the roadside in Durban, trying to get away from the Excelsior Place of Safety, from which he has just escaped.
deur Jan van Tonder, Human & Rousseau, 2019
Liora kyk stip na die lang, reguit gruispad wat deur die woestyn sny, haar hande styf om die toue van die skoppelmaai geklem. In die verte slaan stof op. ŉ Warrelwind? Nee, dit kom te reguit nader, soos ŉ ryding. Laat dit asseblief tog ŉ lorrie wees, een van dié wat oom Moshe altyd naby die kasbah in Algiers gaan huur wanneer sy volstruisvere by die hawe afgelaai word. En laat hom asseblief tog dié keer ŉ bietjie langer as gewoonlik bly, tot sy oor ŉ paar dae sewe word.
Gaan Suid-Afrika oukei wees?
deur Jan-Jan Joubert, Tafelberg, 2019
As politieke joernalis en skrywer kry ek baie vrae van Suid-Afrikaners van alle rasse, samelewingsklasse en tale oor sleutelaspekte van die land se politieke, ekonomiese en samelewingstendense, wat sommige mense as dinamies en ander as kommerwekkend ervaar.
The Fifth Mrs Brink
deur Karina M. Szczurek
8 February 2015
No words. Words.
‘Brakuje nam slow z rozpaczy’ – from Mom and Krystian.
We are missing words out of despair. A literal translation.
I’ll take you there
deur Joyce Carol Oates
In those days in the early Sixties we were not women yet but girls. This was, without irony, perceived as our advantage.
The Evening of Adam
deur Alice Thomas Ellis, Penguin, 1994
“What I don’t understand,” said Eve, “is how, while one person is – well, say, looking at violets in a hedge, somewhere else another person will undoubtedly be torturing a third person to death. Do you see what I mean?”
Die swart sluier
deur Joan Hambidge, Tafelberg, 1998
Die jaarlikse Welkom-leeskringseminaar is die literêre gebeurtenis van die jaar, weet Sonja Verbeek, voorste kenner van die leeskring as literêre fenomeen. Trouens, haar studie onder Perfidia Pansegrouw het ook opslae gemaak in Pennsylvania, VSA. Die studie, in oorleg met al die verskeie leeskringe in ons Suiderland, het mense in die Noorderland asmede geroer. Die titel heet gepas “Welkom in Welkom” en hier word gelees, en die ekstase van lees word diep beskou.