Fleetwood Mac are a good band to listen to when you’re dealing with a break-up since many of their songs have to do with relationship troubles and they have had their fair share of failed relationships (with each other).
The ‘famous five’ of Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – I wonder what it was about them that so captured the public imagination around the time of their Rumours album? I think people could relate to these talented musicians who were very open about the relationship troubles they were experiencing.
One song I’ve listened to quite a bit this weekend is “Go Insane” by Lindsey Buckingham. Not because I’m going insane but because I love the haunting guitar-playing and the soulful cry that Buckingham produces 😉
Other than listening to break-up songs, what else have I been doing this weekend? Some comfort reading. I’m enjoying Gardening at Night by Diane Awerbuck which is a local coming-of-age story which is funny, wry and well observed.
I’ve picked this up again after an absence of maybe two years and I’m not sure what made me put it down last time – perhaps I was distracted and I didn’t have the energy for Awerbuck’s ironic detachment. I see that Andre Brink commented that Gardening at Night shows “a South Africa the international reader has not yet seen: the wood of smallness and ordinariness and quirkiness of everyday life behind the trees of politics”.
It’s a story of a young girl who grows up in Kimberley, studies at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and then escapes to Cape Town where she teaches at an upmarket all-girls’ school. It’s also clearly based on Awerbuck’s own life which, while nothing out of the ordinary, is told with such a vivid (and wry) imagination that it becomes refreshingly different.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
There is no sea in Kimberley. We make do with drunken every-other-Sundays on the river, frightening small children and trying to waterski barefoot. The water is cold Milo but not fit for human consumption, as the sign says. There is always a capsized hand on its surface, clutching a beer snaffled from the bar. There are no ladies of the lake, or kings to be called, but there are mutant catfish that live on the bottom of the pan, whiskers trawling for white feet in the water. Eating them is a bad idea; they taste of river mud and lost scuba divers with too little oxygen in their tanks.
I like the image of the capsized hand clutching a beer bottle which evokes the lady of the lake and then the shift to mutant catfish eating oxygen-deprived scuba divers. Would that qualify as King Arthur meets science fiction meets South African autobiography?
The style is close and chatty but also distant with an amused detachment.
Almost at random here’s another extract which I enjoyed:
Gordon goes out after and I only know she is weeping because I can hear them through the window: a spy in the House of Love. He tries to hug her and she pushes him away and screams at him that she does not want to be friends; inside there is loud clinking of glasses and clearing of throats. But her throat is not clear. She re-enters and I push my spine against the wall – cold, but not as hard as a woman whose blue eyes are pink and whose heart we’ve cracked open. I expect her to curse me like a bad fairy at a christening, but her suit contains her; it holds back her wrath in her Wonderbra chest. She has come back for her handbag made of the skin of some thing and then she leaves, looking taller than she is, clicking down the driveway and into her car.
The narrative style here reminds me a bit of Kate Atkinson. She can pack a punch into a small scene, which seems almost casually strung together. The narrator is both present and removed at the same time. She’s shrinking against the wall in case she gets a good klap and she’s also attentively watching the other woman clicking down the driveway, smirking a little at the Wonderbra and the high heels.
I’ll be back next Monday probably. Have a good week.