read at your peril

2011-07-20 00:00

IT is present-day Meyerton, and Annica and her former domestic worker May are now business partners, running a bustling boarding house.

Aiming at a loose microcosm of South African society, they have a cross-cultural array of guests and friends, and politically correct as ever, even mixed-race couples and gay people feature. From a female butcher, a senior policewoman, a teacher and a madam from a brothel, the characters are vividly painted in primary colours that leap out from the page. But that’s not altogether a good thing.

After happily anticipating another wonderfully put-together South African novel, I was sorely disappointed. Despite hoping to give it a good review (I always root for accomplished local female authors), the copy reads like the script of an embarrassingly bad slapstick TV comedy, and the action just never stops its dizzying pace.

To quote an apt line from the pages: “It was begin-ning to feel like our place had become a vortex, sucking in events with increasing speed”. It is over the top, with no breathing space. The humour felt plain and artificial, and a smile never passed my lips the entire, exhausting, interminable read. Perhaps I don’t have the right sense of humour, but I found it cringeworthy. Writing humour well is a rare talent that I am sure does not come easily, and not everyone gets it right.

The storyline is haphazard, and just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous, it does. Read it at your peril. It may irritate intensely.

The book follows Annica Foxcroft’s other well-received novels There are Ants in my Sugar and More Ants!

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