Friday, 24 April 2009

Bits and bobs on books and politics

April, in South Africa, is a total write off in terms of work. We have two public holidays for the Easter weekend, then this year Wednesday 22 April was national election day. Then there's 27 April, which is Freedom Day, and 1 May, which is Workers Day (yes, next week is a three-day week here).

In other words, we've not had one full work week in April. Crazy! And cool in some ways... frustrating in others.

I would LOVE to be going away for the long weekend, or taking the three working days off for a mini holiday as my boss is done. Alas, money is always an issue and it's not going to happen. But, seeing winter has just hit Joburg with force, I will take comfort next to our fireplace (the first time we've had one of our own) and in a glass of good red wine with TSC. Nice...

In other news, I don't usually do book reviews on my blog, but I've just finished Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. Have any of you read it? If so, how did you find it?

Summary: Raimund Gregorious - Mundus, as his students affectionately call him - is a predictable character. A bookish Latin professor, well-respected, perhaps a little boring. One stormy morning, he encounters a beautiful, distraught Portuguese woman in a red leather coat...Later that day Raimund will realise: that moment changed everything. All of a sudden, nothing in his life feels right. His restlessness is fuelled further when he happens to find a book by a little-known Portuguese writer, Amadeo de Prado. The appearance of the mysterious woman, and Prado's prescient words, all seem to tell him the same thing: that he must leave everything behind.And so, early the next morning, he packs a bag and boards the night train to Lisbon on a restless journey across Europe and deep within himself in the hope of discovering somewhere, someone, who makes him feel alive and connected to himself and the world once more. Night Train to Lisbon is a richly told novel of ideas which will haunt readers with its depth and artistic beauty.

I fought with this book from the first page. I started off thinking it was brilliant. Then I got irritated by the bad typesetting (the spaces between words get dropped increasingly frequently as the book goes on). For someone who habitually reads with a pencil in hand to correct spelling and grammar mistakes (I know you're probably laughing as you think about all the typos on this blog), it was infuriating.
I wonder if the translation is as good as the original German? I found that the book grabbed me in places so that I couldn't put it down. Then it lost me completely in others and I wondered what on earth it was all about.
Nearing the end of the book, I decided I liked it. A lot. But then it finished. I can't say it ended, because usually there's some marker to denote an ending, whether it's a happy or a sad one. This book just stopped. And then I asked whether it had been worth reading through that much bad typesetting. And I still can't give myself an answer.
In still other news (yes, I am attempting to catch up on all the things I've wanted to post about), I voted for the first time on Wednesday. I was at varsity during the last elections and wasn't able to register in my home town.
Voting was very much less exciting than one dreams as a small child. The reality is that we stood in a line for an hour and a half and marvelled at how open to corruption the system could be. But at least I have my purple-stained thumb to prove that I did my bit. Now we sit back and wait for the final count, for all the numbers matter.
We know what the results will be - ANC will rule. JZ will be president. And SA will enjoy some more political fun and games as the new prez tries to decide which of his wives should be first lady.

5 comments:

Dash said...

ouch!

from the political commentary I have found on you Saffers' blogs, I can only come to the conclusion that these ANC people are very bad and I hope that it doesn't turn out that way...

Caz said...

AAAH JZ and Malema. What a pair. At least entertainment and plenty of fodder for Hayibo.com are guaranteed!

angel said...

I'm seriously hoping JZ will get rid of Malema... then perhaps the ANC will no longer have to apologise for the nutjob!

Miss T said...

funs and games in SA for the next couple months!

Slyde said...

i cant beleive that you get time off for Easter, you lucky duck u...