25 Trappe na benede

deur Madelein Rust, lapa, 2021

Stereotipes werk beter in hierdie bedryf. Dit het sy op die duur manier uitgevind. Kliënte betaal vir die ervaring ook, nie net vir die nonsens wat mense in hulle koppe prent nie. Sedert sy haar voorkoms aangepas het, het haar kliëntetal verdriedubbel. Die meeste van die goedgelowiges kom weer en weer. Soms, as sy gelukkig is, kom sit die reusagtige Lucifer op die tafel wanneer sy besig is met palms of kaarte. Hy is gewoonlik die kersie op die koek, omtrent tien jaar oud en erg bedonnerd, en het ʼn manier om te intimideer met daardie bleekgroen oë van hom. Swart van haar en lank van stert, ʼn kat sonder gelyke, ʼn toneelrekwisiet waarvan enige waarsêer maar net kan droom.

Een of ander held

deur Zirk van den Berg, Kwela, 2021

Dudeck was nog altyd ʼn kêrel vir sintuiglike plesier – sy lewe draai om eet en drink, en sy gedagtes neig ook pal na ander lekkertes toe. Terwyl hy in bevel van die Hochnamib-polisiestasie was, het sy verantwoordelikhede hom in toom gehou. Hy het bitterlik gekla, maar Siegfried het altyd vermoed dat die man heimlik verlig was oor die riglyne en struktuur wat sy werk verskaf. Dit was soos ʼn heining op ʼn perderesiesbaan. Noudat hy kan gaan waar hy wil, is dit asof Dudeck die wil verloor het om hoegenaamd te beweeg.

The Narrow Land

by Christine Dwyer Hickey, Atlantic Books, 2019

Still,  she shouldn’t have bitten his hand. But then, he probably shouldn’t have dragged her across the floor. Even if he had been dragging her away from the window. The window she had threatened to smash with the broom handle – though God knows why she’d decided on that particular tactic. As if the window somehow was to blame for providing a view down to the beach and the sunbathers. And say she had managed to make a smash in it, say she smashed every one of its thirty-six panes. What difference would that have made? It would be repaired and returned to its former state. Whereas words – they can never be taken back. Words are the deadliest weapons: merciless, vicious, diseased. Cut them and pus would ooze out.

In die kas

deur Nataniël, Die Nuwe Afrikaanse Prosaboek, Human & Rousseau, 2019

Juffrou Blake kon dit nooit vir haarself uitwerk hoe dit gebeur het dat sy in daardie spesifieke huis gewoon het, ongetroud was, Geskiedenis gegee het, en amper veertig was nie. Dinge het nou maar net so uitgewerk en dit was te laat om nou van voor af te begin, al wat sy kon doen, was om dit alles te haat. Maar te haat met oorgawe. Van haar van af (met die “Juffrou” waarop hulle haar tydens en na skool aangespreek het), tot die aaklige huise en winkels in haar straat, en die smaaklose mense wat hulle bestanddele daar koop.

Die dal van doodskaduwee

deur S.J. Naudé, uit Dol Heuning, Umuzi, 2021

Die kameras is geïnstalleer. Jenna het selfs voorgeskryf waar oral. Daar is ʼn monitor in Laura se slaapkamer en in die vooportaal, ook op haar selfoon. Sy kyk skaars ooit na die beelde. Sy wou hierdie dinge nooit gehad het nie en kon dit nie bekostig nie – al was dit op Jenna se inisiatief, was dit op Laura se rekening. Dit laat haar kriewel – alles en almal wat so in stilte dopgehou word. Oral in die buurt, op selfone en op rekenaarskerms en televisieskerms: bleek beelde van tonele in die donker, oë wat na skerms flits wanneer enigiets roer.

Landskap met klip

deur Jaco Fouche, Die Nuwe Afrikaanse Prosaboek, Human & Rousseau, 2019

In sy kombuisie sny hy die groente en kook dit min of meer sag op sy gasstofie, eet dit met ʼn ongesond dik stuk ham. Hy is besig om gewig aan te sit wat hy nie afgeloop kry op sy ekskursies in die veld in nie. Die ritte dorp toe vir voorrade, een keer in twee of drie weke, is onvermydelik. Die ideaal is dat hy vir homself sorg, uit die veld of uit ʼn groentetuin en miskien ʼn hoenderkampie. ʼn Mens raak gemaklik, jy wil nie afstand doen van produkte soos vrugtesap, meel, ontbytgraan, vleis nie. Daarby kom die DVD’s en rekenaar, wat hom toelaat om tog met die wêreld verbind te wees al voel hy baie dae as ʼn mens jou sout werd is, kan jy jou rug op alles keer, jou kamer sluit, die sleutel weggooi, die klowe instap, ʼn manier vind om te leef.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

by Dr. Seuss, Collins, 1967

You’ll come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win? And if you go in, should you turn left or right … or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

Life A User’s Manual

by Georges Perec, Verba Mundi, 2009

In the space of a little over two years, Ingeborg had the Devil appear 82 times for fees eventually rising to twenty, twenty-five, and once even thirty million (old) francs. The list of her customers included six members of parliament (of whom three in fact became ministers, and only one an Under-Secretary of State), seven top civil servants, eleven company directors, six officers of the rank of general or above, two professors at the Medical Facility, various sportsmen, several top clothes designers, restaurant owners, a newspaper editor, and even a cardinal, the other applicants coming from the worlds of the arts, literature, and especially, show business. All were men, with the exception of one black operatic singer whose ambition was ro play the role of Desdemona. Shortly after signing her pact with the Devil, she brought her dream to reality thanks to a “negative” production which caused a scandal but ensured notoriety for the singer and the director: Othello’s role was played by a white man, all the other parts were played by black artists (or whites in black makeup), with costumes and sets similarly “inverted”, where everything were white or light (the handkerchief and the pillow, for instance, to quote just those two disposable props) became dark or black, and vice versa.

Die heelal op my tong

deur Anoeschka von Meck, Penguin, 2020

Van die eerste dag dat ek by Pa-hulle aangekom het, het ek besef hiér sal ek nie kan bly ne. Pa het ‘n nuwe lewe en ‘n nuwe vrou en het nie plek vir ʼn tienerdogter wat sy lewe kompliseer nie. Mens vermeng nie een bedeling met ʼn volgende nie, het Pa geglo. Maar wat gemaak met kinders? Veral dié wat jou agtervolg? Dit was duidelik dat Pa homself in iemand nuut omskep het, en dat ek deel van ʼn vorige, minder suksesvolle prentjie is waaraan hy duidelik nie herinner wou word nie.

Weerlose meganika

deur Anton Roodt, Tafelberg, 2020

Ma sit in die halfskemer op ʼn wit bank. Haar hooftooisel is ʼn lang, spierwit pruik met ʼn band om haar kop wat bestaan uit wit krale, afgewissel met ʼn sprinkeling van diamante. Sy dra ʼn jagluiperdvel-miniromp en dit voel vir Piet of hy haar spykerhakskoene met rooi sole al iewers gesien het. Sy het lang wit wimpers, maar haar donker oë is onleesbaar. In Piet se verbeelding is sangomas altyd vroue wat soos hekse lyk, maar Anna is besonder aanvallig. Haar vol mond is bloedrooi.

The Living and the Dead

by Patrick White, Vintage, 1996

It was a day of trudging and eexcitement in small, damp streets. There was always another corner to another street. She had to see. She had to look. She had to buy the chocolates and the macaroons. In her enthusiasm the stately Mrs Standish became once more Kitty Goose, the straying hair beneath the hat, and the bright, expectant look she had worn in winter lanes. If we had not been extravagant, felt Mrs Standish, this would be Paris. But in her present mood she did not resent the alternative. She could make it a touching second-best, full of intensified sensation, the sensation sometimes attached to making the best.

Apeirogon, A Novel

by Colum McCann, Bloomsbury, 2020

In the second half of the twentieth century psychiatrists began to notice an increasing number of tourists in Jerusalem suffering from acute psychotic decompensation: delusions and other episodes induced by proximity to the holy places of Jerusalem. Because of the high incidence of the cases – at least a hundred a year – they were channeled to one central facility, the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center. The patients who suffer from the syndrome – some believing they are Jesus, , some Mary, some Moses, some Paul – can be found wandering in the streets of the Old City in clothing adapted from towels and hotel bedsheets, wearing crowns of woven thorns on their heads. Often the syndrome disappears as soon as they leave the city.

Die verdriet van België

deur Hugo Claus, uit die Nederlands vertaal deur Daniel Hugo, Pretoria, 2020

Louis word wakker van stemme wat saggies rusie maak en Pappa se vuis wat teen ʼn kopkussing slaan. Nie soos vroeër nie wanneer hy in sy bed huil en Pappa, die vreesaanjaende mensvreter, instorm en brul: “Gaan jy slaap of nie, ja of nee?” en met ʼn houtkapper se swaaibeweging ses keer ritmies reg langs sy verstarde kop op die kussing kap. Die stemme is ingehoue, dié van Pappa eerder klaend en Mamma s’n uitdagend. Louis ken die uitdrukking op haar gesig wat daarby pas, ʼn innerlike, koppige pret. Hy voel dit soms oor sy eie gesig trek, soos ʼn wolkie.

The names

by Don DeLillo, Picador, 1987

For a long time I stayed away from the Acropolis. It daunted me, that somber rock. I preferred to wander in the modern city, imperfect, blaring. The weight and moment of those worked stones promised to make the business of seeing them a complicated one. So much converges there. It’s what we rescued from the madness. Beauty, dignity, order, proportion. There are obligations attached to such a visit.

Gedeeltelik bewolk

deur Ruan Kemp, Tafelberg, 2019

Die stad is nat. En slymerig. George steier kromrug teen die bult op, die gansdonskombers om sy kop gevou, die voetenent sleep agterna soos ‘n gebreekte vlerk, slurp water, swaar soos ‘n anker. Vervloek ‘n taxi wat vir hom toeter blaas, verrvloek die insittendes ook, en hul nasate tot in die vyfde geslag. Hamer aan die deur van sy ou elfkamerhuis, die plek is nou ‘n gastehuis, maar niemand maak oop nie. Oorweeg die stoep, maar die stoep is gedeeltelik nat. Staan en wieg in sy gansdonskombers, kyk hoe die stoep natter raak  Sleep straataf, af in Army Avenue, op met ‘n grondpaadjie, enkeldiep in die modder op, verby ‘n tjoepstil kleuterskool, verby ‘n spoorwegagtige huisie waarin ‘n enkele liggie brand, gasvryheid op die deurkosyn doodgekrap, op teen die bult, verby ‘n nuuskierige vark met ‘n loopneus, ‘n brandsiek hond. Gaan staan voor watsegoed, uit die nat doem dit reusagtig teen die grys lug in op. Kasernes? Barakke? Bomskuilings? Dis donker binne, droog. Gaan lê op iets sags in die hoek, slaap.

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley, Penguin Modern Classics, 1955

The various Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering were housed in a single sixty-storey building in Fleet Street, In the basement and on the lower floors were the presses and offices of the three great London newspapers – The Hardy Radio, an upper-caste sheet, the pale-green Gamma Gazette, ad om khaki paper and in words exclusively of one syllable The Delta Mirror. Then came the Bureaux of Propaganda by Television, by Feeling Picture, and by Synthetic Voice and Music respectively – twenty-two floors of them. Above were the research laboratories and the padded rooms in which the Sound-Track Writers and Synthetic Composers did their delicate work. The top eighteen floors were occupied by the College of Emotional Engineering.

The Pale King

by David Foster Wallace, Hamish Hamilton, 2011

I am not even sure I even know what to say. To be honest, a good bit of it I don’t remember. I don’t think my memory works in quite the way it used to. It may be that this kind of work changes you. Even just rote exams. It might really change your brain. For the most part, it’s now almost as if I’m trapped in the present. If I drank, for instance, some Tang, it wouldn’t remind me of anything – I’d just taste the Tang.

Americana

by Don Delillo, Penguin, 1990

Numbers mean less now that the adding machines, the super-calculators, the numerical systems and sub-systems have been uninvented. However, thinking back, I recall how important it was for me, personally, to define a situation, or a period of time, with as many numbers as I could assemble. They seemed the very valets of clarity. If I were on my deathbed today, and did not know the date, my cells would probably refuse to surrender. Without a calender, a stopwatch, a measuring cup on the night table, I couldn’t possibly know how to die.

Toekomsmens

deur Isa Konrad, Lapa, 2020

Terwyl hy verder in die straat afstap, word hy nietemin geleidelik bewus van visuele versteurings in die vorms wat hy deur die rooi mistigheid voor sy oë probeer deurgrond. Knakke in reguit lyne. Ontbrekende hoeke, gebroke oppervlakke. Die soet stank in die lug herinner hom aan die aanval op Musanda en toe kom die beelde van die brandende stad wat hy op die nuusskerm gesien het by hom op. Dit was hierdie stad. Toe hy dit besef, sien Kel ook beter waarna hy kyk. Murasies en verbryselde dakke, pikdonker holtes waar daar vensters of deure moet wees. Al die geboue is uitgebrand. Die puin maak heuwels op die sypaadjies. Die verwoesting wat voor sy oë vorm aanneem, is apokalipties.

Blindness

by José Saramago, Panther, 1997

Lying on their beds, the blind internees waited for sleep to take pity on their misery. Discreetly, as if there was some danger that others might see this distressing sight, the doctor’s wife had helped him to clean himself as well as she could. There was now that sorrowful silence one finds in hospitals when the patients are asleep and suffer even as they sleep. Sitting up and alert, the doctor’s wife looks at the beds, at the shadowy forms, the fixed pallor of a face, an arm that moved while dreaming. She wondered if she would ever go blind like them, what inexplicable reasons had saved her from blindness so far.

Onthou my

deur Helena Hugo, Lux Verbi, 2020

Die idee is so absurd sy wil giggel. Om te dink dat ʼn mens ʼn sertifikaat moet kry om te wys jy is dood. Geen prestasie nie, net ʼn oorsaak, ʼn datum en die amptelike handtekening. Moet jy dit saamneem hemel toe of los jy dit hier?

Here We Are

by Graham Swift, Scribner, 2020

He would put her in a box and, while she was in it, take a sword – two, three swords – and run her through. But this was not before he put her in another box, all hunched up like a trussed turkey in an oven, and then locked the door, wielding first the magic key – the magic golden key! – and made her disappear. And then – another locking and relocking – another wielding of the key – made her come back again. That was kind of him. Only to run her through with swords.

Narkose vir die hart

deur Helena Hugo, Jasmyn, 2020

Hoe sy by die huis gekom het, weet sy nie. Franz het saam met haar kar toe geloop. Die koopsentrum se parkeerarea was stiller as vroeër, maar daar was nog genoeg mense om hulle. Andrew het ook tussenin gekom en Saranie het hom voorgestel aan Franz, een van diedokters by die hospitaal waar sy vriend oorlede is, maar een van die dokters wat baie lewens red. Andrew het sy fooitjie geneem en diskreet in die skemer weggeraak.

American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins, Tinder Press, 2019

Soledad has a black eye and a scraped cheek on the same side. Her hair is wild and full of grit. Rebecca is bleeding at the temple. Just a thin, bright red cord against her skin. Her mouth is swollen and raw. A guard pulls them by the ankles, one at a time, toward the liftgate of the truck and flings them to the floor like sacks of rice. Soledad and Rebecca don’t complain with their voices or faces or bodies. They’re both limp – all the flinch has gone out of them. The sisters land near the far end of the line of migrants, and they don’t move from where they’re placed. Rebecca closes her eyes at once. Soledad keeps hers open. She lifts her chin, leans forward, and looks down the line until she sees Luca sticking out a little from the rest of the migrants. She nods at him once.

Alinda se lampie

deur Helena Hugo, Derde keur, Jasmyn, 2020

Daar is niemand behalwe sy nie. Die gebedskamertjie in die hoek se deur is toe. Sy voel altyd so aardig: om te dink die vroue moet altyd hier kom bid en mans kry die geleentheid om na die naaste moskee te gaan. Hierdie ruskamer is aangenamer as die meeste – vroulik en geurig en versier met vars blomme. Sy was haar hande, trek die kopdoek reg. Dis so lastog.