"Apart from some thorn scrubs, there were no trees except those gathered together for a definite purpose: to shade a tin-roofed homestead, or to provide a trading store with its windbreak. The sort of God's own country where every farmer began his day with a very deep sigh."The same commenter mentioned that television came to South Africa only in 1976 and presumed that McClure's novels reflected this. I had noticed no such reflection, I replied. But when I picked up The Sunday Hangman to resume my reading, I came across a series of comic set pieces involving television — no surprise in a novel published in 1977 and possibly written in the crucial television year:
"`Tomorrow night the TV's in Afrikaans,' she said, keeping hold of his hand, and they went automatically through to the kitchen for their coffee. `They've invited us again, so can you come over?'
"`An Australian baritone singing translations form real Italian opera. I'm going.'
"That, thought Strydom, was exactly what the old Minister of Posts and Telegraphs had warned against when describing television as the Devil's instrument. Not once that week had they sat down together as man and wife and talked over his more interesting cases."Elsewhere we get scenes of Strydom haggling over the price and features of a television set and amazing onlookers with the weird results of his fiddling with the color dials. But that one excerpt will suggest that McClure has an eye for social history and gentle comedy as well.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012