Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Castor Semenya in the New Yorker

"ARIEL LEVY: Hi, Daniel. Well, I think that Caster Semenya thinks of herself as a woman and since nobody can say for sure, I guess I figure why not go with her own sense of identity? Who is a bigger Caster Semenya expert than Caster Semenya?"

Read more:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

District 9

Okay it's good. The bastard offspring of The Office and Alien and an acute satirical portrait of contemporary SA. All it's missing is a Thabo Mbeki figure siding with the industrialists in private and blaming white racism and the CIA in public.

It's also a morality tale, a fairy story with two morals:

1 - Never piss off a Van de Mevwe
2- Be kind to prawns.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Other View on District 9

“You fucking mizungo [white person], I’m gonna get you!,” screams the menacing black Nigerian cannibal. ...District 9 illustrates the strange new state of racial and political identity. It suggests some lingering Afrikaans’ fear or, possibly, how Jackson really thinks about the Maori and Aborigines.

New York Press - From Mothership to Bullship. By the ironically named Armond White (lefty)

Rolling Stone on District 9

This baby has the stuff to end the movie summer on a note of dazzle and distinction.

District 9 - There's always something new out of Africa?

...the locals are fed up and pushing for segregation...

...violent clashes between impoverished black South Africans and Zimbabwean refugees...

...Unemployment is rampant, healthcare is nonexistent...

LA Times

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harrold Bloom on Blood Meridian

"AVC: So you think that, despite your own initial reaction to it, McCarthy is successful in the way he uses violence in the book?

HB: More than successful. It’s not only the ultimate Western, the book is the ultimate dark dramatization of violence. Again, I don’t see anyone surpassing it in that regard."

"AVC: The violence in Blood Meridian is uncharacteristic. It’s not used as a cheap metaphor or a means of catharsis or transformation.

HB: Oh, no, no. The violence is the book. The Judge is the book, and the Judge is, short of Moby Dick, the most monstrous apparition in all of American literature. The Judge is violence incarnate. The Judge stands for incessant warfare for its own sake."

It was the judge who got me into the book. You meet the kid. You go into the tent with the preacher. The Judge accuses the preacher of molesting little girls. And being run out of "Fort Smith Arkansas for having congress with a goat." General gunfire. Tent destroyed, great violence etc. And then The Kid goes to the bar. The judge is there buying rounds. Someone asks him how he got the goods on the preacher.

"Goods? said the judge.
When was you in Fort Smith?
Fort Smith?
When did you know him to know all that stuff on him?
You mean the Reverend Green?
Yessir. I reckon you was in Fort Smith fore ye come out here.
I was never in Fort Smith in my life. Doubt that he was.
They looked from one to the other
Well where was it you run up on him?
I never laid eyes on the man before today. Never even heard of him.
He raised his glass and drank.

There was a strange silence in the room. The men looked like mud effigies. Finally someone began to laugh. Then another. Soon they were all laughing together. Someone bought the judge a drink."

I also laughed at that point, and started reading with a different kind of attention.

"AVC: When you called it “the ultimate Western”, did you mean merely the paramount example of the genre, or its final expression?

HB: No, I meant the final one. It culminates all the aesthetic potential that Western fiction can have. I don’t think that anyone can hope to improve on it, that it essentially closes out the tradition."

Well, yes. Consider this snippet:

"...the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god."

That's what McCarthy did with the Western. He cut it loose.

SABC’s response to TVIEC Memorandum


Thursday, June 11, 2009

America's Bloody Origins

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the best, most thought provoking, book I've read for some years. McCarthy puts a child into the real history of the West and gives him a gun. The result is a blood encrusted epic of mythic slaughter and America's origins. It is also very beautiful. McCarthy is an alchemist. He does simple things and produces something far greater than the sum of these effects.

Ponder this:

"the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god."

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Danny Gillan's News from the Shed.

"I mentioned it a while back, it's the one lots of people had fights over. It's called (appropriately) Short Fuses, and contains stories by some of the best writers I've never met. It's a product of the Bookshed, a writing and critiquing site with several reputations, all of them justified."

Danny Gillan

Thursday, May 28, 2009


As you all know, the television industry is staging a peaceful protest action against the SABC on 4 June 2009. The response to our call for companies and individuals to join us has been well received and our numbers are growing. Many unions, actors and musicians are on board and we will also be putting out a call to the public to get involved.


Monday, May 11, 2009

White Wedding Grosses Out

Jann Turner's White Wedding grossed over R1.1 million at the Box Office this past weekend when it released on circuit in South-Africa. These results are in line with the opening weekend performance of the smash hit SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE's gross earnings on its opening weekend in March this year.


Friday, May 8, 2009

The Revolution

"With the working people, again it is not so well. Unlucky! For there are twenty to twenty-five millions of them. Whom, however, we lump together into a kind of dim compendious unity, monstrous but dim, far off... 'the masses.' Masses, indeed: and yet, singular to say, if, with an effort of imagination, thou follow them, over broad France, into their clay hovels, into their garrets and hutches, the masses consist all of units. Every unit of whom has his own heart and sorrows; stands covered there with his own skin, and if you prick him he will bleed."

The French Revolution - Thomas Caryle. You can get it at: DailyLit

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pirate Life for Me

“He told me it was a national service with a lot of money in the end. Then I took my gun and joined them. Years ago we used to fish a lot, enough for us to eat and sell in the markets. Then illegal fishing and dumping of toxic wastes by foreign fishing vessels affected our livelihood, depleting the fish stocks.”


It seems that modern piracy is relatively polite. Compare and contrast:

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

John Masefield.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Origin of the Braai - Payment for Sex?

"Only male chimps hunt for meat, so females can only acquire meat if they are given it from males, or if they steal it. For the males, this means that the more successful they are at hunting, the more meat they will have to give away in the long term, and the greater the potential for sex. For the females, the benefit of this exchange is the meat, which is an uncommon treat for chimps, as they mostly eat fruits and vegetables."

Finding Dulcinea

Samuel Beckett on James Joyce

"Joyce paid me 250 fr. for about 15 hrs. work on his proofs.... He then supplemented it with an old overcoat and 5 ties! I did not refuse. It is so much simpler to be hurt than to hurt."

And again, two weeks later:

"He [Joyce] was sublime last night, deprecating with the utmost conviction his lack of talent. I don't feel the danger of the association any more. He is just a very lovable human being."

From a JM Coetzee piece on Beckett in the NY Times.


"Commercial television doesn't demand honorable conduct, but it doesn't preclude it." David Milch.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Short Fuses - The Authors

Dan Holloway was once, in the same year, officially the most intelligent person in the world and the fourth best discus thrower in Oxford. The quest for “a storyline that makes sense” has, sadly, taken its toll on both of these.

Sean Cunningham is a criminal vandal/sheisty supervillain, currently in hiding from the governments/policemens. He does not have a pet cat, but if he did it would wear a top hat and have a lisp.

Reclusive author Patricia J. DeLois is rumoured to live in Vermont, but in fact she spends most of her time at her home in Maine.

Roland Denning was born in North London a long time ago. He’s still there. He’s not a Goth.

Jasper Dorgan lives and works in Wiltshire and writes his nights in a garden shed.

Derek Duggan lives in Spain – “He is the best new writing talent I have seen by a country mile,” is what award winning author Kazuo Ishiguro had to say about Derek Duggan in a recent dream I had. Kofi Anan had some stuff to say too, but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of the banks crumbling. Find him on Facebook.

In his youth, Danny Gillan used to think he was a musician, and played in several bands in and around Glasgow with varying degrees of failure. Now in his late thirties, he accepts that rock godhood is an unlikely eventuality, and has decided to think he is a writer instead. In order to fund this delusion, Danny works In Social Care, supporting adults with learning disabilities. His first novel, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, was published on 1st October, 2008, by Discovered Authors. Find him at:

Gillian Hamer lives and works around Birmingham as a Company Director in the retail sector, but most weekends heads for the wilds of North Wales where many of her novels are based. After a promising career as a pro-footballer was tragically cut short by a crippling metatarsal injury, her talents turned to her real love of creative writing. A former columnist for Writers’ Forum Magazine, she has completed a Writers Bureau course, written three crime/paranormal novels and numerous short stories.

Larry Harkrider lives in Texas, where he spends every spare moment plotting his escape.

JW Hicks - Ancient Celt, scribe and dreamer of the dark.

Amanda Hodgkinson lives and works in south west France as a columnist, travel writer and translator. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in various literary magazines in the UK and USA.

JA Hudspith — Johnny hates bios. He lives in the Shed.

Perry Iles was born in Cambridge (the English one) in 1955. He moved to Scotland in 1991 and now lives near Dumfries with his wife, their daughter and a deranged whippet. He has been writing since last century and is the author of three novels, several short stories and a book about his memories of European travel as a child in the 1960s. He is currently working on his fourth novel, The Other Side of Here. In 2004 his ending to Fay Weldon’s One Size Fits All reached the fi nal three in the BBC’s End of Story series. Until recently, he worked in the IT industry, but he has now given this up to concentrate on writing fulltime. His other interests include travel, modern music, and the sustained abuse of electric guitars.

When Lorraine Mace forgets which country she now lives in, she takes refuge in the Shed.

These days, R.K. Nathan lives in Barcelona, having wandered around various parts of the world as a writer, teacher, translator and musician and come full circle, all the way back to the country where his parents met in the Summer of Love.

Lawrence Poole was born in London in 1962 where he still lives, posthumously. His interests include avoiding thought of any kind and his main concern is ensuring his unfinished novel remains unfinished. To this end, he hangs about in the virtual bar at because a) it is the best peer-review site for writers he knows and b) it is the only place that will put up with him.

Nick Poole is a writer, husband, father, Civil Servant, Internet Troll, drunkard, layabout, Socialist, anti-royal, a blinkered chauvinist and like all writers he is both a seeker after truth and a liar.

Jo Reed lives and writes in a leaky house in Somerset, shared with two opinionated Chihuahuas. At certain times of the year she may be found causing mayhem along the Spanish coast with the pointy end of a sailing boat.

Jane Dixon-Smith lives and works in the English Lake District, where she is currently writing a series of novels based on the Warrior Queen, Zenobia, who led the greatest revolt ever staged against Rome.

James Whyle earns his living in Johannesburg, inscribing runes on 64bit Packard Bell electric stone. His play, Rejoice Burning, is available in New South African Plays, Aurora Metro Press.
He is a founder member of The BookShed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Litopia, Nirvania...

...or just The Shed, whatever you call your writer's site, it's good to make a book.

Yes. We. Can.

Short Fuses

RRP: £9.90

And you can buy it here.

ISBN: 978-0-9561534-0-1

Spec: 264 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm

Dan Holloway, Sean Cunningham, Patricia J. DeLois, Roland Denning, Jasper Dorgan, Derek Duggan, Danny Gillan, Gillian E Hamer, Larry Harkrider, JW Hicks, Amanda Hodgkinson, JA Hudspith, Perry Iles, Lorraine Mace, RK Nathan, Lawrence Poole, Nick Poole, Jo Reed, Jane Dixon- Smith, James Whyle, Sean Cunningham.

This anthology came about at the fag-end of 2008, following a prolonged period of arguments, fisticuffs and general drunken brawling. The authors, and more just like them, can be found in The Shed

Monday, March 30, 2009

Short Fuses - New Writing from The Shed

Short Fuses is a compendium of 20 incendiary confections created in the fractious online assembly known as the Bookshed: an unruly gathering of linguistic fugitives whose only common bond is a passion for writing, absinthe and monkeys. Most of the writers represented here are escapees from other peer-review websites, although at least one is on the run from constabularies not merely virtual. Should you wish to meet them, why not knock on the bar-room door at If they like the cut of your jib, they might even let you in.

Short Fuses

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Protea tempers flare between Ashwell Prince and teammates

SOUTH African batsman Ashwell Prince clashed heatedly with his Test teammates during a domestic match this week.

Prince has just returned to the national side after missing the five past Tests.

He is said to have been involved in a heated, abusive slanging match with A. B. de Villiers and Paul Harris.

Prince plays for the Eastern Cape Warriors and the other pair for the Northern Titans.

Prince had been named acting captain for this week's third Test in Cape Town, but was removed from the position the following day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Cricket

"Any suggestion that players are being picked solely on comic headline potential must obviously be laughed out of court. At least until Brett Geeves is asked to carry the drinks."

The Guardian