Man’s Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl, Rider, Penguin Random House, 2004

Our generationn is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered the gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.

The Coronavirus Brief

Time, December 15, 2020

South Africa is steeling itself for a second wave of coronavirus infections, The Guardian reports, with officials blaming the spike on students’ end-of-semester parties in recent weeks. One weeklong event from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4 in the southeastern coastal town of Ballito attracted more than 1,500 people, about two-thirds of whom have since tested positive. Cape Town, where similar gatherings have been held, is experiencing its own spike. Researchers report that most of the newly infected people are between 15 and 19 years old.

H is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald, Vintage, 2014

There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that it is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.

Drie etjies in ʼn snuifblikkie

deur Dana Snyman, uit Onder een dak, Tafelberg, 2020

Ouma se oorlede broer, oom Faan, was glo nog heiliger op sy kar as wat Oupa op sy Impala was. Oom Faan het ʼn Zephyr gehad. Eenkeer moes oom Faan-hulle tant Kleintjie na haar kinders in die Vrystaat vat. Dit was vir oom Faan ʼn groot bekommernis, want tant Kleintjie was ʼn groot, swaar vrou. As sy agterin die Zephyr sit, het oom Faan uitgewerk, gaan die Zephyr se bande skeef afloop. Toe het hy glo ʼn plan gemaak: Hy het besluit dat tant Kleintjie links agter moet sit, en toe sit hy ʼn groot, swaar klip in die bagasiebak, aan die regterkant. Volgens hom sou die gewig in die Zephyr dan gebalanseerd wees en sou die bande nie skeef afloop nie.

Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien:  ‘I should be dead. I’ve had an excessive lifestyle’

by Ryan Gillbey, theguardian.com, November 5, 2020

Does he think Rocky Horror contributed to the discussion of gender and sexuality? “Most definitely so. That wasn’t intended but I’m grateful it’s helped other people feel less isolated or lonely.” It helped him, too. “Being transgender is a nightmare for many people. I’m very lucky that I’m in showbiz where I can be this eccentric person and therefore it’s allowed. If I were a primary school teacher maybe that wouldn’t be the case.”

Lessons from a Pandemic Halloween a Century Ago

by Tara Law, Time: The Coronovirus Brief, October 29, 2020

Looking back to Halloween during the 1918 flu pandemic, it’s clear that people have always been split between two drives during disease outbreaks: to allow themselves to go wild, and to hunker down and protect themselves and their communities. As my colleague Olivia B. Waxman writes, in 1918, some U.S. communities urged residents to skip parties and “jollifications”; elsewhere, people carried on as usual. In Indianapolis, a health official even lifted a ban on public gatherings for the holiday, allowing people to “go ahead and have all the Halloween parties they wanted to,” as the Indianapolis Star wrote at the time. In some places, Halloween 1918 may have even been wilder than usual. In Birmingham, Alabama, for instance, the Birmingham News reported that the community seemed to “[crack] under the strain” of staying at home, with some people even tipping over cars and uprooting gates.

Don DeLillo: ‘I wondered what would happen if power failed everywhere’

by Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, October 18, 2020

I use an old secondhand Olympia, which I bought in 1975. What I enjoy about it is that it has large type, and this allows me to look clearly at the words on the page, and so to find a visual connection between letters in the word, and words in the sentence – something that has always been important to me, and which became more important when I was working on The Names [a novel from 1982, set in Greece and the Middle East, that is ostensibly about flashy business types in perpetual motion, but is really concerned with both the vagueness and specificity of language]. I decided then: just one paragraph on a page so that the eyes can fully engage. Don DeLillo

The Uses of Literature

by Italo Calvino, Harvest Books, 1987

Having grown up in times of dictatorship, and being overtaken by total war when of military age, I still have the notion that to live in peace and freedom is a frail kind of good fortune that might be taken from me in an instant.

Women in Solitary

by Shanthini Naidoo. Tafelberg, 2020

As the five Special Branch officers, at gun point, whisked me away at dawn from my mother’s house to the solitary cell via the death row cell in Pretoria Central, I was convinced that I would die in their hands leaving my three-year-old, Nkosinathi, an orphan. – Joyce Sikhakhane-Rankin, 1969