elcome to Detectives Beyond Borders' 1,900th post. I celebrate the occasion with an homage to beauty. First up are two bits from Roger Smith
's new novella, Ishmael Toffee
, the title character freshly out of Cape Town's Pollsmoor Prison and surveying his new surroundings:
"When he leaves the shack in the morning the sea of rusted iron that is Tin Town sprawls out into so much space that it robs him of his breath and he almost runs back inside."
"Distant Table Mountain and its cloth of cloud rises up clear and sharp over the endless shanties and box houses of the Cape Flats ..."
The Cape Flats
, "apartheid's dumping ground," must be one of the most hellish places on Earth ("Smith's Cape Town slums are as grim as any steam-punk Victorian hell hole," I wrote after reading Wake Up Dead.
) Yet the image of a sea of rusted iron sprawling "out into so much space" has a certain desolate beauty. One secret to good noir is keeping the beauty and the dread in perfect tension so the reader is attracted and repelled at the same time. Smith does it.
' beauty is of a different kind: hot, steamy, sexy, and doomed, what the movie Body Heat
wishes it could have been on its best day. Everyone's headed downhill in Hendricks Edgar-shortlisted Cruel Poetry
, but on their way, Hendricks gives them some lines as funny as Allan Guthrie's:
"He can’t imagine that a woman living at the Moons could write anything, but who knew? Maybe a female Charles Bukowski—frightening thought. He hopes she never asks him to look at her work."
"Despite the cold air conditioning of the office, he’s beginning to overheat. He scoots his chair closer to the desk to skim the last essay. He’d shuffled it to the end of the stack, in case he might die and never have to grade it."© Peter Rozovsky 2012
Labels: Africa, Cape Town, Florida, miscellaneous, noir, Roger Smith, South Africa