As jy van moord droom

deur Deborah Steinmair, Lapa, 2020

Het jy al ooit gedroom van moord, gedroom dat jy gemoor het? Droom is moord, agterstevoor. Daar is ʼn omgekeerde wêreld agter die spieël, waar ʼn mens se hand wegbeweeg wegbeweeg van jou gesig wanneer jy aan jou neus wil vat, waar die glas versplinter voordat dit val, waar ʼn mens agteruitloop en waar ʼn mens jou impuls eers registreer wanneer jy reeds daaraan uiting gegee het.

Inteendeel

deur Andre P. Brink, Human & Rousseau, 1993

Ek ken nie meer die name van die plekke waar ek verbykom nie. Al die vroeëre name het nou ontoereikend geword. Ek besit niks. Ek moet hulle van voor af leer ken: nie die name nie, maar die dinge self. Die klipheid van ‘n klip, die koppigheid van ‘n koppie, die doringheid van ‘n doringboom, die stilte van stilte. 

Die verevrou

deur Jan van Tonder, Human & Rousseau, 2019

In die boonste hoek van Candice se een venster is ʼn swaeltjienes. Liora vermoed die swaels het reeds na die noorde gemigreer. Sy sien ʼn paar klein groen voëltjies uitgelate in ʼn hol klip langs ʼn vetplant bad. ʼn Lang, skril fluit laat haar na die koppie agter die huis opkyk, maar sy sien net fynbos en hier en daar ʼn keurtjie of doringboom, met klip en kranse tussenin. Weer die fluit, en nou swaaiende arms teen die blou lug aan die kruin: die bolyf van ʼn mens. Candice.

Lila

by Marilynne Robinson, Virago, 2014 

Sorrow is very real, and loss feels very final to us. Life on earth is difficult and grave, and marvelous. Our experience is fragmentary. Its parts don’t add up. They don’t even belong in the same calculation. Sometimes it is hard to believe they are all parts of one thing. Nothing makes sense until we understand that experience does not accumulate like money, or memory, or like years and frailties. Instead, it is presented to us by a God who is not under any obligation to the past except in His eternal, freely given constancy.

Rooi haring

deur Schalk Schoombie, Human & Rousseau, 2017

Wat is die moderne obsessie met gesond eet, mooier lyk, langer leef? Plankdun en uitgeteer! Wie flous ons? Die dood is ons intieme metgesel, Jan Rap en sy donker maat. So maak eerder vriende met Meneer Swart! Leef groot en breed, sit twee plekke vol. Sherman bespreek gewoonlik vir hom twee plekke in die teater en op vliegtuie. En alles sit styf. Niks pas hom nie. Nie eens Big & Tall se ekstragroot nommers nie. Hy is gewoond aan knope wat afskiet, broeke wat skeur wanneer hy buk en ritssluiters wat ontspoor. Kaftans werk die beste, al sedert varsitydae. Ja, hy groei steeds, in alle rigtings behalwe op! Soms verras hy sy uitgebreide vriendekring deur soos ʼn sultan in wye wit gewaad by ʼn geleentheid in te wals, goue ringe flitsend aan sy oopgesperde pofvingers, ʼn Retrosuperfuture-sonbril met ligblou lense op sy ronde oogbanke (pleks van sy gewone monokel) wat hom skatryk en despoties laat lyk. ʼn  Olie-monarg wat maak nes hy wil. Hy pas nuwe personae soos nuwe uitrustings aan. Sy logge lyf is ʼn lisensie vir ʼn  laaikas vol leefstyle, allitereer hy dan uitspattig, tol met arms wydgestrek in die rondte dat almal kan kyk en fluit en lag. Sherman vat al weer oor. As jy dan nie maer en pikant kan wees nie, maak verdomp seker dat almal van jou weet, dat jy die siel van die partytjie is en die boot laat kantel na jou kant.

Life A User’s Manual

by Georges Perec, Verbamundi, 2009

The day came, alas, when the artist refused to come down from his trapeze. He had just done his last performance at the Grand Theatre at Leghorn and was due to leave that evening by car for Tarbes. Despite Rorschach’s and the music hall manager’s pleadings, increasingly hysterical appeals from the other members of the troupe, from the musicians, the entire staff, the technicians, and from the crowds who had begun to leave but had stopped and returned on hearing all this noise, the acrobat, in a fit of pride, cut the rope he could have come down by and began to perform, at ever-faster pace, an uninterrupted succession of grand circles. This supreme performance lasted two hours and caused fifty-three spectators to pass out. The police had to be brought in. In spite of Rorschach’s warnings, the policemen brought a long fire-ladder and began to climb up. They didn’t even get halfway: the trapeze artists opened his grip, and with a long scream, describing a full parabola, he crashed to the ground.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

by Muriel Barbery, Editions Galimard, Paris, 2006

Whence comes the sense of wonder we perceive when we encounter certain works of art? Admiration is born with our first gaze and if subsequently we should discover, in the patient obstinacy we apply in flushing out the causes thereof, that all the beauty is the fruit of a virtuosity that can only be detected through close scrutiny of a brush that has been able to tame shadow and light and restore shape and texture, by magnifying them – the transparent jewel of the glass, the tumultuous texture of the shells, the clear velvet of the lemon – this neither dissipates nor explains the mystery of one’s dazzled gaze.

The Overstory

by Richard Powers, Vintage, 2018, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019

Sih Hsuin becomes Winston Ma: a simple engineering fix. In myths, people turn into all kinds of things. Birds, aninals, trees. Why not an American named Winston? And Fusang – his father’s mythical land to the east – turns, over the years after Pittsburgh, into Wheaton, Illinois. Winston Ma and his new wife plant a substantial mulberry in their bare backyard. It’s a single tree with two sexes, older than the seperation of yin and yang. The Tree of Renewal, the tree at the universe’s center, the hollow tree housing the sacred Tao. It’s the silk tree on which the Ma family fortune was made, a tree to honor his father, who’ll never be allowed to see it.

The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury, 2019

The Dutch House was impossible. I had never had that thought before. When Maeve told me that our mother had hated it, I couldn’t even understand what she was saying. The walls of the powder room was bas-relief, swallows carved into walnut, swallows shooting through flowered stalks toward a crescent moon. The panels had been carved in Italy in the early 1920s and shipped over in crates to be installed in the downstairs powder room of the Van Hoebeeks’ house. How many years of someone’s life had gone into carving those walls in some other country? I reached up and traced a swallow with one finger. Is this what our mother had meant? I could feel the entire house sitting on top of me like a shell I would have to drag for the rest of my life. It didn’t go like that, of course, but on the day of his funeral I thought I was seeing the future.

The Pickwick Papers

by Charles Dickens, Penguin Popular Classics, first published 1836/7

Everyone has experienced that disagreeable state of mind in which a sensation of bodily weariness in vain contends against an ability to sleep. It was Mr Pickwick’s condition at the moment: he tossed first on one side and then on the other, and perseveringly closed his eyes as if to coax himself to slumber. It was of no use. Whether it was the unwonted exertion he had undergone, or the heat, or the brandy and water, or the strange bed – whatever it was – his thoughts kept reverting very uncomfortably to the grim pictures downstairs and the old stories to which they had given rise in the course of the evening. After half an hour’s tumbling about, he came to the unsatisfactory conclusion that it was of no use trying to sleep; so he got up and partially dressed himself. Anything, he thought, was better than lying there fancying all kinds of horrors. He looked out of the window – it was very dark. He walked about the room – it was very lonely.

Skag

deur Jaco Wolmarans, Tafelberg, 2020

Die Samil se drywer is gedaan. Langs hom lê sy luitenant en slaap, en die drie troepe agterin onder die seil waarskynlik ook. Droom seker al van Kersfees saam met die familie. God weet, dit gaan nog lank vat teen hierdie tempo. Die ganse rit uit die Kalahari was gevaarlik. Beeste wat summier in die middel van die nag voor jou opdoem, vanuit die lang gras langs paaie sonder heiningdrade. Nogtans het hy voet neergesit, heelpad negentig kilometer per uur probeer handhaaf. Pretoria was ver. Dit is hoekom hy die lokval te laat gewaar. By die skerp draai na links naby die Blackrock-myn, waar ʼn grond-kortpad regs na Hotazel uitdraai. ʼn Bakkie sonder ligte met twee gewapende mans agterop trek skielik dwars oor die teerpad en kom tot stilstand. In sy kopligte sien die Samil se drywer hoe die mans kalm hul R1-lope lig en begin skiet. Laag.

We The Animals

by Justin Torres, Granta, 2012

It was a grave. It was my grave. Papa had dug my grave. They were my first thoughts, and when I was fully horizontal, half submerged in puddle muck, stories about being buried alive rushed into my mind – avalanches, mudslides, suffocation – but I had a wish, and so I stayed to wish it. I could see a squarish patch of sky, framed by the walls of the hole, and that sky calmed me some, the clouds, the blue; it would not rain again today. I felt a great distance from the house, from Ma on the couch and my brothers and Paps. The clouds seemed to move faster than I had ever known them to, an understanding would blur inside of me and I could trick my body into feeling that it was moving and the clouds were still – and then I was certain that I was moving, and the hole was magic. I closed my eyes and stayed quiet and motionless but felt movement, sometimes sinking, sometimes floating away, or stretching, or shrinking. I allowed myself to lose all bearings, and a long, long time passed before I wished my wish.

Liewe Mamma

deur Esther Verhoef, vertaal deur Juanita Fourie, Lapa, 2020

Dit voel vir haar of sy versmoor. Sy maak haar mond oop en suig lug in. Weer en weer. Dit is nie genoeg nie. Haar hande bly vasgeklem om die handvatsels van die sakke terwyl sy gretig suurstof insuig, haar asemteue vinniger en vinniger. Maar dit is steeds nie genoeg nie. Dit voel of sy deur ʼn koeldrankstrooitjie asemhaal. En toe kom die skielike drukking op haar bors by, asof iets of iemand daarop druk. Hard. Die drukking raak intenser, slaan oor in pyn. Sy haal wanhopig asem, hygend en hortend, terwyl sy vorentoe en agtertoe strompel asof sy stormdronk is. Die vertrek draai om haar en dit voel asof die mure en plafon van haar af wegtrek … Of is dit sy wat krimp? Koud. Sy kry skielik so koud. Die sakke gly uit haar hande en sy syg op die vloer neer.

The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury, 2019

The first day of orientation took place in a lecture hall with stadium seating. Various faculty laid out impossible cases and told us that by the end of the year we would be able, if not to solve these cases, then to at least discuss them knowledgeably. The head of cardiac surgery took the stage to extol the wonders of the cardiac surgery program, and the boys who had told their mothers they were going to be heart surgeons whistled and hollered and clapped, each one thinking that this was going to be him one day: the lord of it all. Then a neurologist came out and other members of the audience cheered. One by one every organ had its moment in the sun: Kidneys! Lungs! Oh, how they beamed! We were the smartest bunch of idiots around.

Bloedsteen

deur Irna van Zyl, Penguin, 2020

Storm se ma, Rowena, val sonder gil of geluid netjies in die gaping tussen die laaste wa en die tiende perron. Die perron waar die bogrondse trein van Twyford af gewoonlik inkom. Reg langs die brons standbeeldjie van Paddington-beer skuins op sy tas, groot hoed en al. Rowena val met ʼn slag reguit langs die spoor, parallel onder die trein in. Haar arms, verstommend genoeg, styf langs haar lyf. Haar bene goddank ook lankuit gestrek. In haar sjiekste someruitrusting. Gegroom vir ʼn uitgelese Engelse gehoor van kundige modemense. Rooibont rok van ligte somerstof, kitten heels, sonbruin bene en met ʼn stylvolle trench coat oor haar arm. Daarby ʼn bypassende beige handsak en aktetas van sagte leer oor haar skouer. In haar val verbeel sy haar sy onthou ʼn jong man skuins agter haar, sy hand amper om haar lyf, asof ook hy steun soek in die drukte voor die oop deur van die trein. Haar hand op die lang blink handvatsel om haar op en in te hys. Die toeter wat die laaste waarskuwing blaas.