Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Polokwane, Finished and Klaar

Finished and klaar is a nice phrase, isn’t it. In case that's how we end up, I suggest we tweak the constitution to include it. I propose the following F&K amendments.

1 - The people of South Africa want the government to act against crime. And to do it, they must start at the top, finished and klaar.

2 - Corrupt policemen should get double punishment, finished and klaar.

3 - Politicians legally proven to have entered into corrupt relationships with shabby financiers must join the shabby financiers in jail, finished and klaar.

4 - Presidents who cannot speak clear and simple English and have relationships with corrupt policemen must resign, finished and klaar.

5 - The government must stop spending money on corvettes and start spending it on honest, hard working policemen, teachers and nurses, finished and klaar.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bliss - The BookShed versus Litopia

In the interests of encouraging friendly rivalry between the “new writing” sites Litopia and The BookShed, I’m pleased to reveal that BookShed member Patricia J DeLois’ short story, Bliss, has received a glowing review from Michael Legat. Bliss was initially, it is rumoured, rejected by Litopian moderator Lynn Price, when it was used to apply for membership on Litopia. It was not, apparently, good enough. As to which site is spotting and attracting the talent, I suggest you read Bliss and draw your own conclusions. Personally I think it’s as good as any American fiction I’ve read recently. It’s up there with Annie Proulx and Tobias Wolff. DeLois is a new voice in American fiction and you heard it here first.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lying and Thieving

"The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki... demonstrates Ronald Suresh Roberts to be an extensive plagiarist, a fabricator and falsifier of history, and the author of a colossal literary fraud..."

Roberts is... "unfit to be relied upon for any purpose, even for directions to the post office."

Antony Brink on lyingandthieving.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

FNB Bank Scam?

I have no account with First National Bank. However, I received this e-mail:

FNB Online Banking Website will be changing soon for the year 2008.To make your Online Banking services more safe and secure. It will have a great new look and some new features with the latest technology to keep your details secure, and dedicated teams to monitor Online activity and intercept any suspicious transactions. FNB security department has request for your account information including your registered Cell phone number to Online Account. These will be used in our New SSL Server Upgrade which will be taking place on the 30th of November 2007. These Information are mandatory to complete your verification as a legitimate member of First National Bank. please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and verify your personal records so that you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

Please click on update (www.ajfernandez.com/templates/fnbupdate.htm) to continue to the verification process and ensure your account security.

It is all about your security.

Thank you

FNB Security Advisor

Then, at a separate, Google address, this:

If you follow the instructions and if you are honest by not changing the order of the name list, and you honestly make your deposits to all 3 names on your list, and you've e-mailed it to at least 200 people you will see within 90 days, a huge difference in your bank account. Very importantly, DON'T forget to fax your proof of payment to 086 607 8427 because this will double your income. By being honest you will be successful. If you cheat you cannot expect to see the results. "What goes around comes around - you will also be cheated."

Step One - Millionaire's List

If you have internet banking, your banking will be so easy. If not, call at the different nanks and deposit R50 into the bank accounts of each of the names listed below. If you have access to internet banking it would be quick and easy.

Make sure that you take correct details of accounts:

1. Mr P.S. Mtshali
Account type: Cheque Account
Account number: 405 7703271
Branch code: 632005

2. Mr E. Dube
Account type: Cheque Account
Account number: 405496 4226
Branch code: 632005

3. Hazel Swartz
Standard Bank (MTN Banking Account)
Account type: Transmission Account
Account Number: 0783 520 9349
Branch code: 490991

(Please note: tell the Standard
Bank teller that this is an MTN Banking Account)

Remember: This is a legitimate service for which you are paying. The listed people have bought this opportunity, as you will - and pass it on to others. There is a saying in the business world: "Always spend a small amount before you can expect to receive lots of it".

Step Two:
Edit the millionaires list by putting your name with your banking details in position number 1...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weep for the Old Man

This is from an Esquire article, The Last Man Standing, by Tom Junod

" I haven't spent much time in rooms like that, loaded with New York literary people. He, on the other hand, has spent his entire life in rooms like that, and that made me understand, at the very least, his bad behavior. If you're Norman Mailer, how can you walk into a room like that and not want to beat the shit out of someone?"

It's long, but I insist that you read right through to the end. There is a writer at work. Mr Junod is a writer, and he's setting things up, it's there for a purpose, so that he can pay it off. So that he can make you feel.

I wonder what Uncle Norm thought when he read it. I wonder whether he laughed, or whether he wanted to hit him. Or if he just thought: what a great writer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making a Cult of Yourself - New Writing from The Shed

The Other Side of Here - Perry Iles

"He made a cult of himself'" ...a comedy, a romance, an adventure and a novel that spans almost two centuries.

B.B. LeMarr's Domesday: Scenes from a Globalist Divorce - B.B. LeMarr

"This is a curious book, I will say from the start. The idea - reached after reading Redmond O'Hanlon's Congo Journey and rereading PJ O'Rourke's Holiday in Hell and drinking a little too much Tennessee whiskey - was to create a form of travel writing that took real places and tweaked them with magical realism..."

Bufflehead Sisters - Patricia J DeLois

"Janet has always wanted a sister, and she believes her prayers have been answered when she meets Sophie. It is only after 30 years of friendship that Janet discovers that sisterhood doesn't mean the same thing to Sophie that it means to her."

Bufflehead Sisters was the runner up at the YouWriteOn 'Book of the Year' contest in 2006. It was recently published and is now available from Amazon.

All courtesy of... The BookShed.

Playing to Climax

Here are some snippets from a conversation between two great writers:

PLAYBOY: Let's switch to censorship. Are you at all concerned about the government's intrusion into our privacy?
HELLER: Do I think, for example, this guy Pee-wee Herman should be arrested for playing with himself in an adult theater?
VONNEGUT: Did he play to climax? I really haven't kept up with the news as I should.
HELLER: But is that a crime? I would say no.
VONNEGUT: I agree with Joe.


VONNEGUT: There's no urgency about reading anymore. We're not trying to keep up. I have that big book by Mark Helprin and I don't think I'm going to read it because I'm too lazy.
PLAYBOY: What about Norman Mailer's?
VONNEGUT: That's none of your business. Norman's a friend of mine.
HELLER: I intend to read it at one sitting. I read contemporary writers.

Note - a lot of great writers called Norman Mailer a friend.


PLAYBOY: Does sex get better when you're older?
HELLER: Does what?
PLAYBOY: Does it get better when you're older or not?
HELLER: I don't know. I haven't had it since I was young.
VONNEGUT: I don't know if he's kidding or not.
HELLER: Oh, I've had no sex as an adult.
VONNEGUT: He's a comedian.
PLAYBOY: Well, what about you, Kurt? Does sex get better when you get older?
VONNEGUT: You get to be a better lover.
HELLER: I find I'm much more virile now than I was.
PLAYBOY: More what?
HELLER: More potent. I want to do it more often than when I was seventeen or eighteen.


PLAYBOY: Isaac Bashevis Singer said, ''In sex and love, human character is revealed more than anywhere else.''
VONNEGUT: He is liable to say anything to be interesting. He entertains in that way. Do you know what he said about free will? ''We have no choice.''


PLAYBOY: Is there anyone for whom you lust in your heart?
VONNEGUT: My goodness!
HELLER: Madonna. Madonna.
VONNEGUT: Joe mentioned one of Artie Shaw's wives. Seemed to me the sexiest woman I ever saw was Ava Gardner.
HELLER: Kathleen Winsor was pretty hot.
VONNEGUT: Rita Hayworth. I took it hard when she came down with Alzheimer's.
PLAYBOY: Joe, were you serious about Madonna?

It comes from here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mailer on Bush - "this overnight clone of Honest Abe."

Bush proceeded, however, to turn his declaration of the Iraqi campaign's end into a mighty fashion show. He chose—this overnight clone of Honest Abe—to arrive on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on an S-3B Viking jet that came in with a dramatic tail-hook landing. The carrier was easily within helicopter range of San Diego but G.W. would not have been able to show himself in flight regalia, and so would not have been able to demonstrate how well he wore the uniform he had not honored. Jack Kennedy, a war hero, was always in civvies while he was commander in chief. So was General Eisenhower. George W. Bush, who might, if he had been entirely on his own, have made a world-class male model (since he never takes an awkward photograph), proceeded to tote the flight helmet and sport the flight suit. There he was for the photo-op looking like one more great guy among the great guys. Let us hope that our democracy will survive these nonstop foulings of the nest.

From The New York Review of Books.

Bloom on Mailer

This is from a piece by Elaine Woo, writing in The Los Angleses Times.

Mailer, according to Yale scholar and critic Harold Bloom, belongs in the pantheon of literature's giants. "He may be remembered more as prose prophet than as a novelist," Bloom wrote some years ago, "more as Carlyle than as Hemingway. There are worse literary fates. Carlyle, long neglected, doubtless will return. Mailer, now celebrated, doubtless will vanish into neglect, and yet always will return, as a historian of the moral consciousness of his era, and as the representative writer of his generation." By his own account, Mailer was, even at his lowest moments, "still worthy of being a character in a novel by Balzac, win one day, lose the next, and do it with boom!"

More on Mailer

There's a great piece on Mailer in the New York Times. It's by Charles McGrath, and includes the following assesment:

Gore Vidal, with whom he frequently wrangled, once wrote: “Mailer is forever shouting at us that he is about to tell us something we must know or has just told us something revelatory and we failed to hear him or that he will, God grant his poor abused brain and body just one more chance, get through to us so that we will know. Each time he speaks he must become more bold, more loud, put on brighter motley and shake more foolish bells. Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Great Man Has Left Us

NEW YORK (AP) — "Norman Mailer, the macho prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country's literary conscience and provocateur, died of renal failure early Saturday, his literary executor said. He was 84."

When he was young, Mailer said, "fiction was everything. The novel, the big novel, the driving force. We all wanted to be Hemingway ... I don't think the same thing can be said anymore. I don't think my work has inspired any writer, not the way Hemingway inspired me.'' - Richard Pyle in The Guardian.

Well, for what it's worth, Uncle Norm, you inspired me. Let us hope that, in your own words, you sail "across dominions barely seen, washed by the swells of time." May "past and future come together on thunderheads" and your dead heart "live with lightning in the wounds of the Gods."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Big News From a Small Shed.

The BookShed is a babe in arms are far as “new writing” and “peer review” sites go. But The Shed has attracted big talent in a short time

Patricia J. DeLois’, The Bufflehead Sisters, having won a YouWriteOn Book of the Year Publishing Award, awaits your purchase on Amazon.

David Wardale's Kat Danzak and the Twelve Days of Christmas, another YWO best seller, is being packaged and distributed, by YWO, to top UK agents.

Perry Illes’ The Other side of Here is top of the YWO monthly charts.

Patricia DeLois’ Bliss is at number two on the monthly charts.

Nick Poole's Monster in The Mirror is in the YWO best sellers, and sitting at number three in the horror genre.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Proud to be Part of the Team.

The SABC3 soapie Isidingo scooped top honours at last night’s South African Film and Television Awards by winning the most number of Golden Horns. by Charles Molele.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Advertisements for Litopia.

Litopia, which is an established and respected literary site, recently removed a post of mine which announced the creation of The Book Shed. A construct on Litopia called MOD, sent me this private message:

The Shed post
Digital Scribe,
We have removed your post in Cafe Light regarding your new board, The Shed. It was viewed as advertising, and this is something we don't accept in Litopia.

Well, MOD, whoever you may be, I’d just like to say that The Shed will continue to link to, or advertise, Litopia. As a peer review site that is useful writers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Shed

Or, more accurately, The BookShed, is a brand new peer review and networking site for writers.

It will offer writers the opportunity to form long term relationships around their work and will encourage open and energetic discussion.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

South Africa 45, England 14

I'm changing my tune. South Africa will, at minimum, equal England's scrum. We will dominate the line outs. Steyn will finally learn how to offload onto Jacque Fourie's beautifully angled runs. We will run at them from set pieces, and we will slice throught them like a knife through butter. Habana will score thrice, and Fourie, Pieterson and Steyn at least once.

Songs to sing while we're winning:

Leeuloop. From Robbie Wessels - Halley se Komeet

Onverskrokke. From Radio Kalahari Orkes - Stoom Radio.

De la Rey. From Bok van Blerk

And if by any wierd chance we lose, I will blame the people who thought up that embarassing Ninga Turtle Ad.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Argentina 3, South Africa 45.

Here's a snippet from a fascinating post from World of Sprot.

...now the Rugby Football Union (RFU) is bracing itself for an influx of povvos, pikies and boys called Jordan.

Here's hoping we establish dominance up front and then go on the rampage tonight. It's about time a team scored a lot of tries against good opposition.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Oh Crap"

These are Doris Lessing’s first words on hearing she won the Nobel Prize. Or could that be, “Oh Christ?”

"A certain professor must have died,” says her companion, tantalizingly. He appears to have been in a recent accident. One gets a sneaking feeling he wishes everyone was there to interview him.

To see for yourself go to the LA Times, scroll down to the video player, down load the flash player if necessary, find the Lessing link, and there you are. It loads pretty fast and is worth every moment.

She’s a honey.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doris Lessing Wins Nobel

In 1981, when I was running away from the army in Swaziland, I had trouble with any reading except pornography and Doris Lessing. It was the Four Gated City that got me and I read it and re-read it. It shaped how I thought about the world at the time, and she was my favourite author until I read Ancient Evenings and discovered Norman Mailer. I heard Lessing speak once and asked, from the audience, what she thought of Mailer. She spoke warmly of him as an admired peer, I'm glad to report. I still think of her as a much loved, literary aunt. So I'm pretty damn delighted to learn that she's got the big one.

"This has been going on for 30 years," said Lessing who put down her shopping bag and sat on her doorstep, head in her hand, after being told of the award by the waiting photographers.
"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush," she said.

Gordimer, Coetzee, and now Lessing. Must be something in our Southern African water.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

England Will Win the Rugby World Cup.

I had this sudden sneaky feeling. If I was God, sketching out the plot, interested only in a great story, I might just choose England for my winner. England. A credible but hugely surprising outsider.

In the set up, I’d establish a fat red herring: New Zealand. They have to win. It’s obvious. Start of Act Two, I’d introduce another herring: Argentina. The midpoint would be a shocker: New Zealand fly home, and France is back in the game. Act Two climaxes with more astonishment. The final is to be England vs South Africa.

And then, the climax. The epiphany. And it’s “England, England”, lead by brave Sir John, with a pass to Robinson, that overcomes the Boer in the biggest game since the great war of freedom.

This is not what I want to happen. Just thinking plot here. In fact I’m going to invoke the Gods on our side.

De La Rey, De La Rey,
Sal jy die Boere kom lei?
De La Rey , De La Rey,
Generaal , Generaal,
Soos een man sal ons om jou val.
Generaal De La Rey.....

Hoor die Kakies wat lag.
n handjie van ons teen n heel groot mag,
en die kranse le hier teen ons rug.
Hulle dink dis verby,
maar die hart van n Boer
le dieper en wyer.
Hulle gaan dit nog sien

De La Rey, De La Rey,
Sal jy die Boere kom lei…

Lyrics and music by Bok van Blerk.

I'm going to look like a complete arse if we don't beat Argentina. And this has been World Cup of upsets...

Monday, October 8, 2007

And the Dead Watch Over Us

The opening chapters of the "brutally honest" And The Dead Watch Over Us have been published in African Writing Online, and can be read here.

Also available are reader responses from international peer review sites and the query letter.

Ungena u Caveman - Quelle Grande World Cup

Spent the weekend with good friends at a beautiful house perched on the edge of the escarpment near Machadorp. No electricity. So on Saturday we were sitting under a waterfall in an indigenous forest picking up England Vs Oz in Afrikaans on the radio. That night the steak, red wine and log fire mitigated against a journey to the local to catch NZ vs France. So we turned to the radio once more. RSG let us down, but we found commentary in IsiZulu. “Ungena u Caveman”. Depite having an IsiZulu teacher on site, we had to phone Joburg to make sure we were understanding what was happening. Our friends in town were distracted by storms and falling trees.

At thirteen all, the IsiZulu commentary broke for a message for what seemed to be a church service. Quelle horreur! Then commentary came back. We couldn’t understand whether Mitchell had got the drop attempt over or not. It made it even more exciting in a way. We arrived back in Jozi in time for the second half of SA vs Fiji. And man, can those islanders play. What a World Cup it’s been! Il y aura plus d'aventure à venire!

If there are any anomalies in this post, it is entirely the fault of BabelFish, because I don’t speak French. Or IsiZulu. En fait, je ne parle aucun français du tout. Je parle seulement le rugby.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Destiny in a Name.

Jacob Zuma’s isiZulu name is Gedleyihlekisa. It means: he who smiles with you while he is finishing you off.

UkuZuma, significantly, is to make a surprise attack.

These facts go some way to explaining Mr Zuma’s attitude and actions through the Shaik trail, the rape trail and other travails. Mr Zuma has know in his heart since childhood that he is a surprise attacker, a man who will live to smile while his enemies are terminated with extreme prejudice.

I take this very seriously indeed, and only partly because it comes from Aubrey Mongameli Matshiqi, senior associate political analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies, a man whose own name, the Mongameli part anyway, means president.

Boks for the Cup says WorldofSprot author.

We have friends in the world. This just in via e-mail from David Wardale of WorldofSprot.

Good to see the Aussies upping the ante by putting pressure on the ref before the game. It's a classic technique, used by Mourinho and Fergie ad infinitum. but does it suggest they're running scared? I doubt it. I fear that England have left their best performance on the pitch against Tonga. Anyway, if it's to be a southern hemisphere winner, pray God for SA. The All Blacks are just too All Blacky, and the Aussies are, well, Aussies, so my hopes are with your brave boys.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Summing up the Pikoli Pickle - A Pikolimerick

A President by the name of Mbeki,
Had dodgy old friend called Selebi.
His prosecutor, Pikoli,
Suspected Selebi,
And Mbeki, perversely, fired Pikoli.

Pikoli Pickle

This piquant Pikoli Pickle continues to puzzle me. And I am not alone. According to Xolela Mangcu writing in The Weekender, senior ANC members are as "confused as the rest of us." Truth is, the more the government explains this, the less we understand.

On little fact does stand out. It was the SABC which broke the story on the alleged Selebi warrant. Not the “tradidional enemies of the struggle” print media. The SABC. An organization percieved by some to be in the President's pocket. If I was Mr Selebi, I'd have a bad feeling about that.

Curioser and curiouser, said Alice.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pikoli for President

Mbeki, Selebi, Pikoli. It sounds like the start of a limerick, but, on examination, plays out more like a tragedy. The lost innocence of the Rainbow nation.

According to the Mail & Guardian Mr Mbeki suspended Mr Pikoli, head of the National Prosecuting Authority, for failing to consult with him before obtaining a warrant to arrest Jackie Selebi, the National Commissioner of Police. Now Mr Selebi is, by his own admission, a friend of Glen Agliotti. Who was a business associate of Brett Kebble, who died in a shooting down the road in Melrose. Mr Agliotti was then arrested for Kebble’s murder. And turned state witness, thus starting an NPA investigation into “drug dealing, racketeering, money laundering corruption and murder.” In which Mr Selebi was implicated. Thus the warrant for his arrest. Mr Pikoli, “took a principled position. He felt that Selebi was unfit for office.”

So, if Mr Pikoki obtained a warrant for Mr Selebi, why not… give Mr Pikoli a medal? Because, suggests a Mail and Gaurdian source, Mr Mbeki needs Mr Selebi in his pocket ahead of the ANC Conference in Polokwane. He needs him in order to prosecute his agenda in the ANC leadership war. In which he is threatened by Jacob Zuma, a man so implicated in the legally proven guilt of Shabir Shaik, that he really, really should have been kicked out of the ANC long ago.

I backed the ANC before 1994, and have voted for it ever since. I’m stopping now. Tony Leon is gone, replaced by Helen Zille, who helped bust the Biko doctors, and the Democratic Alliance will get my vote. The ANC, under Mr Mbeki, is busy laying waste a reputation built over decades. They’ll have to appoint a man of principle, like Mr Pikoli, before they see my mark on a ballot paper again.

Friday, September 28, 2007

LibraryThing - Power to the Reader

The business of books is in the hands of marketers, grey men, with grey shoes who deposit grey stools into grey bowls every morning at seven o’clock when their wives tell them to. Will digital technology and self publishing change that in next ten years, but putting the power back into the hands of readers?

LibraryThing is a step in the right direction. Members create libraries of the books that matter to them. This in turn leads readers to books that might matter to them, rather than the latest rubbish by Dan Brown.

You can have a look at the beginnings of my personal canon, by clicking on the catalogue URL here. And you can see the authors here. A warning though: they are on the whole, barring Alexandra Fuller, better to read than to look at.

I discovered LibraryThing via Gerrie Hugo. Thank you, Gerrie.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Botha, King of the Congo.

Just after Louis the 16th’s head had been severed by the guillotine, a citizen leapt on the platform, grabbed a handful of royal gore, and flung it over the crowd.
“We were threatened that the blood of Louis would be on our heads,” he said. “And now it is.”

This is from Fatal Purity, a biography of Robespierre by Ruth Scurr. It’s not an easy read, but what a plot! What a story! Moving from great moral adventure, with concerned citizens taking control over their country’s destiny in the face of Royal idiocy, to black Orwellian farce when the Committee of Public Safety becomes the greatest danger to those very citizen’s life and limb.

My daughter is taught in 1st year politics that what happened in South Africa in 94 was not a revolution. But there are a few disturbing similarities. Like the kind of language used in the aftermath. “Enemy of the revolution.” “Traditional enemies of the struggle.” And the fact that the revolutionaries use these words about previous comrades. And the continual accusations of conspiracy and corruption. And the use of state organs to prosecute vendettas.

A crucial difference is that France was invaded by Marie Antoinette’s family in Austria. The fact that hordes of armed Austrians, including Goethe, oddly enough, were approaching Paris tended to ratchet up the tension. Thank God FW de Klerk didn’t have a cousin, Botha the 7th, King of the Congo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One Night at Windsor Castle

At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.

'Now that I have you to myself,' said the Queen, smiling to left and right as they glided through the glittering throng, 'I've been longing to ask you about the writer Jean Genet.'
'Ah,' said the president. 'Oui.'

This is Alan Bennet, imagining a literate Queen Elizabeth. (See: NPR.org.) Bennet's conclusion is that reading would humanize the good woman. If she wasn't too busy ruling.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not for the faint hearted

I have just had, courtesy of a Litopian friend, Larry Harkrider, my biggest musical surprise since The Roches and Steve Earle and Radio Kalahari Orkes.

It is Liz Phair of Girly Sound, with the song...


It is not for the faint hearted.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Murder of Steve Biko

Steve Biko died in September 1977 after being assaulted by Police in Port Elizabeth. At the time I was living not far away with a girl friend in Grahamstown. I had never heard of Bantu Stephen Biko.

Is this how it happened?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Deep Afrikaans Words Fail to Impress Elephant

"We shouted 'deep' Afrikaans words at her. Words I can't repeat, but we encouraged her to go away."

Despite (because of?) the linguistic profundities, the elephants were still angry.

"We were just getting ready to move off again when Sean screamed: There's an elephant cow behind you!"

News 24

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

William Gibson Don’t Plan (II)

Literary agent, Peter Cox, commenting on this site’s feed on Litopia, (for which I am extremely grateful) had this to say about the William Gibson post below:

The trouble is, unplanned writing is usually a mess. Usually, but not always.

As my clients know, I can be a royal pain about planning. Perhaps sometimes I even take my obsession with planning too far. But the truth is, planning makes the tough work of writing – and yes, selling – a book far easier. It ensures that the writer’s effort is expended in the most effective way possible.

I can accept though, that there are writers who have such a strong instinct for plot that they either consciously or unconsciously plan as they go. Maybe that’s a state all writers naturally aspire to

I’m not against planning myself. In something that relies on plot, it is essential. (And Gibson is the exception which proves the rule.) What worries me is that, in these discussions, the element of discovery is left out. Which is what Gibson is talking about when he says: “The book is what happens when your fingers are hitting the keyboard”

Rian Malan’s, My Traitor’s Heart is an interesting example. The book was sold to a publisher off a proposal. It was to be a history of the Malan family from its Huguenot beginnings to the present, exploring the fact that many branches of the family were black. The deal had a television series attached. It was really going to set the author up. The advance was $80 000. Malan was planning to do a quick hit. He’d write the book and retire to a fine apartment in New York.

But then he returned to South Africa and, perhaps, his senses. He abandoned the book deal, losing the balance of his advance and the television series. And he wrote the book South Africa, and his heart, told him to write.

Plots, and synopses, are finally, I suspect, mathematical. If allowed to dictate, they close things down. But there is an element of discovery in the act writing that defies analysis. When it happens, writers should welcome it.

Surely the crucial quality, Peter, is not “a strong instinct for plot”, but a strong instinct for something much grander? Story, maybe? Some resonant, artful humanity which lifts books above plots, out of the bestseller slush, and, without making them “arty” or “literary”, places them in the canon? Places them among the books we hand on to our children?

Note - Peter’s agency Red Hammer Management recently secured a luscious deal for children’s author, MG Harris. May her books be among those that live.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Justice Malala for President

"Here is a truth: we are beautiful. We are a nation born of the ideals of Nelson Mandela and Albert Luthuli, South Africa’s first Nobel laureate...

What happened to us? How can we have two such unedifying characters — a potential power-grabber and an ignorant chauvinist — as the only real contenders to lead our country?"

Justice Malala

Sunday, September 9, 2007

William Gibson Don’t Plan.

Believers in planning your book before writing it throng the internet writer’s sites of the cyberworld. So perhaps it’s evil of me to collect evidence of successful writers who don’t.

“…no book gets written by the guy who walks around thinking about writing books. The conscious ideas I had for the book were not very good ideas. They never are. The book is what happens when your fingers are hitting the keyboard.”

After the success of Neromancer, William Gibson was surprised to find himself a cult hero.
I didn't think I was Dylan going electric. I thought I was Willie Nelson doing something slightly shocking.”

And he is happy enough to live with the lack of critical respect that is the inheritance of Science Fiction writers.
'The best thing about science fiction was always its lack of legitimacy. It was like, "Fuck it, I've run away and joined the circus."

What is the modern fantasy canon? I would suggest Tolkein, Ursula le Guin, William Gibson

You can read Tim Adams’ excellent Guardian profile here.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

R390 – Steynsburg to Gariep Dam

Electric crucifications mark the horizon.
A windmill listens.
Silent fences lope the hills,
Racing the talking wires.

A Gate.
T.H. White.

A bush.
Not burning.

A casual corpse.
Dark stain on tar.

The dam, a sheet of gleaming paint, burnt umber, reaching into blue hills.

A bird looms from the verge, lifting in its claws a perfect circle.
I am astonished.
A bicycle tire?

The eagle lands.
On a fence pole.
Its burden writhes, forked tongue searching freedom.
Eve’s friend, damned by a book, coiled in heraldic claws.
The raptor, wings spread, head cocked, considers lunch.
It is etched there, full Spielberg frame, filling the sky.
And then I’m gone.

The chariot, 2.4 TDI, powered by Ahura Mazda, created in the month of Nissan, crosses the dam wall.
I survey The Two Lands:
This riven, hieratic, loving landscape,
And the inscape.

Ambassador to Kush and Great Zimbabwe, emissary of Ra, Consul of Nubia, Ally of Ur and Babylon, friend, cousin, brother, uncle, husband, bewildered father,
Bearing gifts,
Reading the signs carefully,
I glide onto the N1 and race the charging neurons home.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Exposure for "And the Dead"

I have just learnt that African Writing want to use the opening of And the Dead Watch Over Us as, “one of the arresting works from/on South Africa we are featuring to generate interest for next month's AW South African special”.

I think it’s time to say thank you once more to Nick Poole of Litopia, who has truly mentored the tome and who suggested the prologue that appears to be making it more accessible to reviewers on YouWriteOn.

I’m 60 000 words in now, and four free weeks would probably be enough to find the ending and do a thorough rewrite…

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bring Me My Condom

ANC Youth League spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, quoted in IOL on Jacob Zuma’s song, Bring Me my Machine Gun:

"This song was sung by our cadres during difficult times in exile… When we sing it, we do so to remember those times and to ponder the future."

If we're pondering the future, I would recommend a change of lyrics. For Mr Zuma, a man of big appetites, “Bring Me My Condom.” And for the rest of us, with special reference to the ANC Youth League, Bring Me My Trowel, My Blackboard, My Stethoscope, My Computer, my Instrument of Work.

You can find an English translation of Mr Zuma's favourite song, right at the bottom of the page, here. And one of the best things our president has said, incidentaly, was "lets get to work".

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Prayer for South Africa

"I believe the state should stop taxing books and spend a lot more on libraries and related services." - Anton Harber.

Yes, they should. But does the ANC want a literate electorate? A literate electorate might just understand that the president's prose style is that of a man keener to conceal truth than reveal it.

A little prayer: May our next president be wise, human, honest and a straight talker.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Gwedging Polar Bears on Facebook.

My quote of week comes from charming internet bloggista, Peas on Toast, who appears to live up the road in Illovo. She’s talking about personal revelations on the internet.

“…why did my recent ex have to go and post pictures of himself gwedging some polar bear” on Facebook?

This is great dialogue. I hope Peas won’t be too outraged if she hears it issuing from her television set at some stage. I googled “gwedging,” and was led to this. Has a new word been coined here? (And what does it meant for polar bears?) I asked my daughter and was advised that "tapping" and "waxing" were more common usages.

Peas on Toast should be syndicated by a newspaper. Johannesburg's Sex in the City. Or consider a career in television drama.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Niceness of Novelists, Motoring with The Master and Two Vaginas in Paris.

A thread on Litopia recently discussed the necessary qualities of novelists. Could niceness be one? I’ve been reading Something to Declare by Julian Barnes. (Who was it who wrote Nothing to Declare?) Barnes writes: “Could it be a rough truth that poets are egotists who write mainly about themselves, whereas novelists diffuse their personalities and are therefore more familiar with the action of sympathy”.

Barnes’ subsequent description of Simeon lifting the chamber maid’s skirt as she polishes the table and rogering her like a robber baron casts doubt on his theory. Or might for some.

Other snippets from Mr Barnes:

The great novelists are often poor. Henry James (“the motor is a magical marvel”) went motoring with Edith Wharton. Wharton was well off. Her motor had all mod cons, including windscreen. She told James she bought it with the proceeds of her last novel.
“With the proceeds of my last novel,” said James, “I purchased a small hand barrow on which my guests luggage is wheeled from the station to the house. With the proceeds of my next, I shall have it painted.”

And… did you know that John Updike wrote a poem called Two Cunts in Paris? It’s about Courbet’s painting, The Origin of the World, “a splayed female nude, painted for the Turkish diplomat, Khalil Bey.”

Beneath blanched thighs
Of fat and bridal docility

A curved and rosy closure says, “Ici!”

I presume Updike himself must be the other one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Laurentina was cold and the prawns juicy

I've just discovered that you can, for just under a dollar, listen to the BBC recording of A Man Called Rejoice at a site called The Home of Midor. It's also available in print, as Rejoice Burning, through Aurora Metro.

And Ponta do Ouro was... a far flung corner of a forgotten, Latin Empire. The beaches were endless and deserted, the Laurentina was cold and the prawns juicy. And you can get there in a double cab bakkie. We only got stuck once.

Mseni Lodge... a wood cabin high in the dune forest. Monkeys and Mongooses peering in the window. There's a boardwalk through the forest to the beach, and if you turn south you won't see a soul till Richard's Bay.

Thank you Daan and Elma. It was stunning.

Friday, August 17, 2007

20 000 Runes, then the Sea

I enscribed 20 000 runes on the electric stone this week, and the Scribe Tribe is going to pack up on Sunday and go away for a well earned rest in Ponta do Ouro and Mseni Lodge.

Back, God willing, on Tuesday 28th.

Set Upon by the Pawn Broker

I can’t say that Marx and Engels are an easy read. But their work has its charm.

No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer so far at an end that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie: the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker…

It’s that “set upon by the pawn broker” that I like. It’s atmospheric. You can see Marx looking up impatiently as Engels arrives.

“You’re two hours late, Frederich. Where were you?”

“I had a terrible trip. A pea soup fog. My postillion was struck by
lighting. And then to top it all, I was set upon by my pawnbroker.”

“It’s the fault of the bourgeoisie, Frederich.”

“Of course it is.”

And so, like good typists, they get to work on the tome. An international best seller which changed the world, and can be delivered to your desktop here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The Market Theatre, despite being colonized by Moyo, is still the sexiest venue in a glamorous and dangerous city. There, on Friday night, I saw the opening performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Sean Taylor and Fiona Ramsay as the loving George and Martha. Taylor and Ramsay are as good as it gets, maestros at play, roaring and rollicking through the climaxes, commanding hushed awe in a savage arena, drawing blood.

Nearly early thirty years ago, when I was in the Rhodes Unversity drama department, Taylor and Ramsay came up to one of the first Grahamstown festivals with a production of Steven Berkoff’s East, directed by their old friend Richard Grant.


Voices, cruel and cockney: “Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun…”

And a cone of light rising, revealing the characters from the floor up, shoes, shins, thighs, hunched bodies. The grotesque, masked faces. In a pool of light on a bare stage, they created a world more believable than any movie. It had gravity. It sucked you in.

And it turned me on to theatre. It taught me that theatre, when it works, is the highest art form, taking us back to a time when ritual lived. I once directed Sean as Lear, and watching him become the king was like… I don’t know. Summiting Everest.

So if you live in Joburg, or are passing through, nip down to Newtown and the Market Theatre. Have a scotch at the bar, and get to know George and Martha. Breathe the history. Live. If you go soon, you might even catch a glimpse of the old grey wolf, Mannie Manim, who started it all.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sexy Old Karl

I’ve just signed up at DailyLit, a site found via Peter Cox's Blog, that sends you daily instalments of a book of your choice. I went into the classics sections and chose The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. I just couldn’t fail to be hooked by the opening:

“A spectre is haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.”

If there are any good sex bits, you’ll be the first to know.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Mother's Farts

Gerrie Hugo is an interesting man who has written a book. Gerrie writes well, and appears to have mixed feelings about South Africa. It's love, innit, Gerrie. There's no escape. And having glanced at your blog, I want to read your book. It was your description of your parents that got me, and telling the time by your mother's farts.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Thoughtful Pale Native

His name was, "the slushiest Julian had ever heard, a saliva-making name like a cough drop that forced you to suck your cheeks and rinse your tongue with sudsy syllables."

A lip-smacking sentence from the first page of Sir Vidia’s Shadow by Paul Theroux. It's about Theroux’s relationship with V.S. Naipaul. They met when Theroux was a young lecturer in Kampala. Naipaul was on a junket, a visiting lecturer who did not lecture. His contribution to Makerere University was to judge a writing competition and award only a third prize because none of the work was good enough for 1st or 2nd. Naipaul became a friend and mentor to Theroux, and in return, Theroux picked up the tab.

"The bill was brought, I paid it, I left the tip. Vidia had not seen it. He did not see bills even when they were brought on the most expensive china and folded like origami and presented to him. It was one of his survival skills…"

"With no money for dinner, I took the early train to Dorset so that I could eat at home. It puzzled me that I had spent so much on lunch… it had cost me the equivalent of one month’s rent.... I was at work on my seventh novel, and still doing journalism, and it did not seem as though I could make a living. All this in spite of burning the midnight oil and getting wonderful reviews."

Naipaul also needed cash. Theroux tried to help his friend by setting up a sale of his papers to an American library. The librarian laughed at the suggested price. He had never heard of the Trinidadian writer.

"He had won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize, the W.H. Smith Award, and… the Booker Prize. He was been spoken of as the greatest living writer in the English language and… he pined for better sales and more money."

Sir Vidia’s shadow is a great read. It is, sentence by sentence, beautifully written. And it makes you think. At least, it makes this pale native think. Not least when Naipaul remarks that Africa is:

"“...an obscene continent, fit only for second rate people. Second rate whites with second rate ambition, who are prepared, as in South Africa, to indulge in the obscenity of disciplining Africans.” You either stayed away or you remained, with a whip in your hand. Uganda proved that they only survivors in Africa were second raters and savages, masters and slaves."
Disciplining Africans? Masters and slaves?

Naipaul won the Nobel in 2001, but I’ve never really got him. I tried Mr Biswas and gave up. I did enjoy A Bend in the River. And I enjoyed his brother Shiva’s book about Africa. Theroux, on the other hand, has written a couple of books that I love. Mosquito Coast. The Happy Isles of Oceania. And most of all, Sir Vidia’s Shadow. I think it is because, behind the surface subject, is the real one: the writing life; Theroux’s marriage breaking up; his world falling apart. One of the last things he says to Naipaul, before the friendship ends, is “I’ve lost my way.”

But he survived. He bought a collapsible canoe, left London and wife, and went paddling among the cannibals. And wrote about it. When Paul Theroux gets into trouble, he writes his way out. Maybe that’s what writing is. A way of being. A technique of survival.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bring Back The UDF.

I read “The Russian Analogy” in Commentary South Africa and pondered a little more.

Because I’ve been pondering for some time on the National Intelligence Service, fake e-mails, Selebi’s friends, and the obscure dance of the ANC leadership battle. And it occurs to me that what we need in this country is some transparent democracy. Good, old fashioned, street-committee, United Democratic Front democracy. As opposed to the stealthy, Stalinist, power wielding techniques that the ANC learnt in exile.

It was the UDF, to a large extent, that freed South Africa, and what we need now is UDF type leaders who report directly to their communities, not to The Party, and get punished if they steal.

The tragedy, the shadow, of Mandela is that he led us, unwittingly, to believe that his organization was as transparent as he was. It is not healthy to have too many people in power who grew up in exile.

Monday, July 30, 2007

"upon reflection, a wave of rage came over me"

It's great when one's work carries emotional resonance over time. A Rian Malan profile, which was published by the now defunct Living Africa Magazine sometime in the last millenium, elicited rage from a person calling themselves Annesu in a post on LitNet.

"The part that incenses me, is where James Whyle says the “kids”, of all people, should be reading Malan's eloquent testimonies of South Africans undoing one another.."

I said, scholars, Annesu. I said the book should be on the syllabus. And I'd be careful of Huck Finn, if I were you. Those be deep waters. You won't want your offspring thinking too much about your American neighbours. Best stick with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Getting Your Baby Out There

Writing a book on spec is very different from commissioned work because there is no feedback. You’re out there on your own. But there are two sites I’ve discovered that address the problem.

Litopia is run by literary agent, Peter Cox of Redhammer Management Ltd. You send a writing sample to Litopia, and, if the moderators like your work, you get to join the site. You do some crits of other people’s work, post your own, and start assimilating the response . Litopia is at present rejigging a system whereby your work can rise through the slushpile and get pitched to The Agent himself. It has the advantage of fostering long-term relationships between writers who can get thoroughly familiar with each others aims and ambitions.

YouWriteOn is backed by the British Council. There, you post your work, and, as at Litopia, earn crits by doing crits. The difference is, it’s a much bigger pond, members award marks to each other, and the top five chapters each month get feedback from industry professionals.

Both sites have seen member writers find representation and publication, and both are free.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Death On High

Well-written climbing books tend to have interesting protagonists with challenging goals and simple and fascinating narratives. Among the best are Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void and Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

The latter tells the story of events on Everest in May 1996. A storm hit the mountain when there were too many people near the top. Eight lost their lives. I remember hearing, via Radio 702, Rob Hall talking to his wife in New Zealand. Hall was on a cell phone, straddling Nepal and Tibet, just below the Hillary Step. It was night, and very cold, and I think they both knew he was going to die.

A number of climbers froze to death on the South Col, only meters from the safety of the tents. Blizzard and darkness turned an area as big as couple of rugby fields into a deadly wilderness.

So I was fascinated to read Lene Gammelgaard’s Climbing High. Lene sumitted Everest that day. And she was in the group that got lost on the col. She and another climber took advantage of a brief lull in the storm, identified the peaks of Lhoste and Everest, oriented themselves, and made it to the tents. The others were too weak to follow…

Amoung the interesting survivors were:

Sandy Pitman.

Beck Weathers.

Anatoli Boukreev

And among the dead:

Scot Fischer

Rob Hall

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thank you, Madiba.

Nelson Mandela turns 89 today, and I remember reading his speeches when I was running away from the army in Swaziland. And, years later, seeing him come to pick up his grandchildren from the play school behind the Shul on The Curve in Bez Valley.

I remember the TV debate with de Klerk when Madiba said: “Mr de Klerk is being less than candid.” And you knew, watching, that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the senior man. And that he told the truth, and that de Klerk was lying. And he did it so beautifully that by the end you got the feeling that de Klerk, like all of us, was grateful just to be in his presence.

Happy birthday Mr Mandela.

And thank you.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Speaking Truth to Mbeki

"...the essential point is that if Mbeki felt or still feels that he is misunderstood, there are only three words he needs to say to put it right. It goes like this: “HIV causes AIDS.” "

Well, hello.

"Roberts also suggested in his book that Mbeki’s critics were abusing media freedom. Mbeki has himself suggested it.

...suggesting that critics are abusing their freedom is - when it comes from those who wield state power - one step towards legitimising action to curb them."

Both qoutes from Anton Harber at: The Harbinger.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Balls

With reference to the post below, Vidal's father was a big sportsman. His teams had a practise of making bets with the opposition: bet you our team has more balls than yours. Apparently they made quite a bit of money this way.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Vidal on Kerouac. Literally.

I’m reading Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest. What other writer can go from lunch with Princess Margaret in one chapter to casually remarking to Alan Ginsberg of Jack Kerouac, “I fucked him,” in the next?

This is Vidal on the Clintons, who were about to visit him in Italy in 1994:

"The Clintons are now under attack because they would improve a society that is a heaven for, perhaps, one tenth of the people and a hell, of varying degrees, for the rest. I doubt he will survive his first term. He will experience either the bullet or a sudden resignation, and cousin Albert, the Cromwell of Washington’s Fairfax Hotel, will be Lord Protector. Naturally I hope I am mistaken."

One page further on he has his father telling his mother: “I have three balls.” I can’t recommend it enough.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Real South Africa

The South African Insult has an interesting post, via the Sunday World, on Jacob Zuma. Apparently Mr Zuma has been bust by the King Mswati of Swaziland of not paying a debt. The payment, 90 head of cattle, is owed for the King’s niece, ex police officer and friend of Shabir Schaik, Princess Sebentile. Mr Zuma is betrothed to the Princess, but unable to afford her. I’m confident Mr Zuma will put these lobola issues right should he become President of South Africa. One does not want this kind of diplomatic embarassment with one's neighbours.

I’m reminded for some reason of the Reverend Canaan Banana, who used to ask the press to please NOT describe meetings with Reverend Banana as “fruitful.”

It's not Mr Zuma's right to have many wives that I take issue with. It's that he didn't keep his side of the deal.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Intelligent life on the Internet.

A person going by the charming name of Dusty Muffin has a fascination with Luka Jantje who was beheaded by the English as part of their mission to civilize Africa. Not that they didn't mind you. Nelson Mandela is a product of English Mission School education. But still.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Gotta Love Rejection to Write a Book.

The following just in from the Peter Miller Agency in New York:

Dear James,

Thanks so much for chance to review your gripping story. I was fascinated and moved by many aspects of it, but in the end, I felt the writing fell a little short of illuminating this important story. This is a very subjective view, so I encourage you to continue writing and submitting to other representatives. Keep at it—you will get

Warm Regards…

Guess that means I better write the last 25 000 words, go back to the beginning, and start polishing...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mad Racists and Linkage

A Blogger quickly faces the issue of censorship. I’ve had one comment on this Blog, and it was from a mad racist, an American, in a response to the De la Rey post and the reference to Steve Biko and mad racists. I censored it, because I will not become a forum for mad racists. I was conscripted into the South African army in 1980, and if I learnt one thing, it is that racism is evil. On the other hand, one does not want to rule things out. The Internet, the linkage, is, potentially, humankind falling into consciousness. So I’m thinking of starting a new link category: The Real South Africa? And linking to sites like Kak Duidelik.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Intelligent Life Discovered on Internet

I was feeling a little down this morning, it being June 16, season of strikes and hollow untruthfulness. (Cf J Keats) Then I made an extraordinary discovery. I think I might have proved the existence of intelligent life on the internet. And it’s profoundly South African.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The South African who freed Cuba

1958: Ronald Herbolt, a twenty one year old Capetonian, was working on the cargo ship Constantia. The vessel docked in Cuba to load sugar just as the Cuban Revolution was reaching its climax. Fraternising with members of Fidel Castro's Rebel Army, Ronald was inspired. He left the Constantia to help Fidel and Che fight the Batista dictatorship. After the Bay of Pigs and the missile crisis, Ronald was effectively in exile...

See Idol Pictures for more.


The South African blogosphere gets sorted at: amatomu.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thank you to the WGA.

In order to get Otelo Burning (City of God meets Once Were Warriors in a KwaZulu township) eligible for the No Borders International Film Production Market, the screenplay had to be registered with the Writer’s Guild of America. Baring a one technical glitch (their online facility didn’t like the number of digits in a South African ID number) the process was swift and painless. You can secure copyright on your screenplay by registering it here.

Get Your Foreign Ass into LA

My question: "how can a writer get noticed if they’re from outta town", got thorough and extensive treatment from The Commander.

A summary in point form:

1 - Consider managers rather than agents. They’re more likely to sift through the slush pile.

2 - Enter competitions.

3 - Blog.

His bottom line: get your talented, foreign ass into LA.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Written By has a great piece on what not to do in the writer's room. I have to say, I've done some of them and survived. Maybe that's just Africa for you.

Quick Response from The Commander

"Great question. I'll tackle it in the next few days. OK to use your name or would you rather stay anonymous?"
Commander Shears

I note that he also recommends this little exercise in filmographic numerology.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Great Writing vs Great Ideas

Here's a Hollywood insider who speaks a lot of sense: Kill Him. Very encouraging for those of us with a healthy opionion of our own talent. But is there a way in, if you don't live in LA? I'll have to ask. Watch this space.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Big John, he back

John Perlman, the voice of intelligent South Africa, is back on the radio for the first time since the SABC effectively fired him for honesty. The show starts at 6pm, Monday, June 4th. First guest: presidential hopeful, Tokyo Sexwale. Will Tokyo save us from falling into the chasm between Mt Zuma and Mt Mbeki? You can, theoretically, listen online at www.kayafm.co.za.

Know Thy Place

This blog is ranked 3,336,243 in the world. I’d better keep posting. One doesn’t want to go slipping down the rankings.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Testing Technorati

It's always nice to know if anyone's interested, and I'm just testing Technorati's ability to find out: Technorati Profile At present, it seems, no one is. Ah well, what the hell, sang McWatt.

Friday, June 1, 2007

And the Dead Watch Over Us

I’ve had a gap in the money work over the last few days and am struggling to pick up the threads on the book I’m writing, And The Dead Watch Over Us. It’s narrative faction, autobiography as novel, written in a third person omniscient point of view with all the problems and advantages that entails. You can see some responses from readers world wide here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Zulu Surfers

I learnt by e-mail this morning that the NFVF pitch of Otelo Burning in Cannes created "major excitement" and the screenplay will be read by MTV Films Europe, Miramax, & No Borders, which is part of the Independant Feature Project, New York.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Otelo Burning

Over the last few months I’ve had the most fun I’ve had writing for some time. The reason: Zulu surfers and the seascapes I lived in while working on the screenplay, Otelo Burning. The story was developed by Cinga Productions in association with the NFVF, and you can take a peek here.

De la Rey

Below, with apologies to Bok van Blerk, is a free and wild translation of his freedom tune, De la Rey. Will we be singing it, like the Scots sing Oh Flower of Scotland, as we win the world cup? Or will we be shedding blood?

The original lyric is posted on “White Pride World Wide” site, Stormfront, and the song appears to have a tragic appeal to mad racists. To quote Rooi Jan from another lyric about missing leaders:

"Ek sien bloed in die donker daar bo.
Hierdie donker trein donder nerens toe."

Van Blerk, fortunately, is brighter that some of his fans, aligning himself with Steve Biko in this interview.

Del la Rey

On hill a in the veld, we wait in the night.
There’s blood in the mud,
And the rain and the wind are like knives.
My house and my farm are ash on the ground
But the fire of a name burns in me.

De la Rey, De la Rey, will you come to lead us again?
De la Rey, De la Rey, as one, we will fall around you.
De la Rey, De la Rey, will you come to lead us again?
De la Rey, De la Rey, come and a nation will stand.

The cliffs block our retreat,
And the English think that we’re done.
But the heart of a Boer is deep and wide,
And the Khakis have lessons to learn.
I hear the hooves of his horse; the general comes,
It’s the English, will learn how to burn.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Filthy Choice

Filthy Choice is an educated and quirky music blog. I discovered Filthy Choice when it linked to the Rian Malan article on the home page and popped up on Statcounter. (Trakers can be useful) Go to Filthy Choice for Wimoweh, and find out how the lion sleeps tonight.