Uys’s latest book fails to impress

2012-01-18 00:00

PIETER-DIRK Uys has put his pen to page in a new guise in this fictional faux-memoir of Bambi Kellermann, one of Uys’s many alter egos. She is the younger sister of the more famous Evita Bezuidenhout, and while the sisters share inauspicious beginnings in a humble home in Bethlehem in the then Orange Free State, Bambi’s life follows a much more ambitious star than her sister’s.

Using Bambi’s character as his narrator, Uys recreates seminal moments of the history of the 20th century from the perspective of a vintage, over-the-top Uys creation.

Bambi launches her stellar course into Europe after a fateful meeting lands her a job as a singer/stripper in the The Black Cat nightclub. Within a short time, she graduates to singing in The Blue Angel, haunt of Marlene Dietrich with whom she rubs shoulders.

A marriage to a German man of breeding seems to be the best ­career move for her, except he turns out to be a Nazi. Bambi’s subsequent journeys take her across the globe from South to North America and then all the way back to South African shores, where she finally sets up her men’s club in Darling.

Along the way, she finds herself in the middle of a tryst between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. And, of course, Marilyn much prefers ­Bambi’s attentions to those of the president’s, whose concerns for his bad back overwhelm his sexual prowess. She also bumps into Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner and many other luminaries in her event-filled “life”.

Like all of Uys’s work, there is a lot of sex: woman-on-man action, ­woman-on-woman action, woman-who-is-really-a-man on-woman action and almost every variant in the book.

If you like Uys, you will relish his ­familiar phraseology and outlandish situations. Unfortunately, I have to ­admit to being a little bored by it all this time around. The problem is that Uys needs to find a new voice in which to express himself. Bambi isn’t so different from his own persona and ones we’ve seen ­before, so the book is all a bit samey.

Even though the scenarios may be ­different, I feel like I’ve heard it all ­before. The real trick to longevity is to keep ­reinventing yourself. I can only hope Uys will be back with ­something completely different in the future.

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