by Breyten Breytenbach
Archipelago Books (April 1, 2009)
Breyten Breytenbach is not a man who stays away from causing a wave or making a ripple. But he seems more likely to be driven toward throwing himself into the water as a cannon ball to get things rolling. He was born in Cape Town, South Africa. While attending University of Cape Town he became a committed opponent to apartheid. When he was just under twenty he moved to France. When he went to South Africa for a visit he was captured and imprisoned for 7 years under the Terrorism Act, that is when he wrote The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist. Currently he divides his time between the US, Europe and Africa and is a professor of the graduate level creative writing at New York University. He is a poet, writer, painter and activist, he is known as "South Africa's most important poet of the sixties".
After reading Moriour I can see why he and his writing was important during that time. A time when race issues were flaming and life in South Africa was disjointed and hard. He does not write inside a neat box making sure that his readers understand every nuance and intonation. He concentrates on the message, but not wrapping it up pretty or even simply. Several times throughout the reading I would read a page and wonder what happened. I figured out soon that I was not meant to understand everything, just to gloat on the beauty of the richness in his plump words. If you enjoy artistic writing, poetic prose and an author who writes with a voice full of wisdom then for you Mouroir is a must read. You too will become captivated in its dream-like scenes and sequences, which will surround you even after the book is placed back on the shelf happily read.
I will leave you with a quote:
"For a long time the unfinished story haunted me. I wanted to be able to complete it because I was keen to fit it in with the other writings, get my characters in perspective, fill my notebook so as to be able to hand it in. One doesn't get any younger. The flesh starts riding you bareback, drags you down towards the sods" (p. 237)
(quote from Advanced Reading Copy, final book my contain changes and a different page listing)
Orbis Terrarum Challenge: 2009 South African Author