Beautiful but indulgent writing

2008-05-07 00:00

Former Mail & Guardian columnist and satirical author Tom Eaton has taken a masters thesis he wrote under the supervision of Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee and turned it into a fine novel.

Mr Muller is ageing with the island he lives on, the wind and beach sand sweeping through his life on a daily basis, taking with it memories he wishes to forget, but also the ones he wants to hold on to. Steven Bee is the 20-something-year-old son of a martyred hero. His father surely would have been an enemy of Mr Muller’s, making their friendship an interesting reconciliation of differing cultures.

Solitude is reflected in a rather melancholic prose style and getting into the book is quite a tedious business. Once you’re in, though, it’s one of those books that you wish could go on a lot longer.

Their island is attached by a wading to the mainland, a place ravaged by civil war and in a phase of misrule and chaos. Their slow, decaying civilisation has a different pace to that of the mainland, and there are still aspects of modern amenities. But the island is under the rule of the revolutionaries and white residents are but ghosts of the past. These ghosts don’t seem to mind being shadows; in fact, it is the reason they are there.

Young Claudette’s arrival springs a little life into the story with her ability to make Mr Muller and Bee jealous over her innocent affections. This helps the two look at each other’s characteristics and here Eaton indulges in an over-descriptive analysis of their emotions.

But there is a particularly beautiful sequence of writing where Eaton simply lets the days and nights flow into each other without a word spoken. You really feel like you are there, whether as a ghost or as a restless revolutionist. There are other times when Eaton goes a little too far in his descriptive prose and you want to skip a few lines here and there to get to the point.

It is a novel that has set Eaton on the right track; his work can only gain momentum.

Matthew le Cordeur

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.