Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Out in the streets with Roger Smith

Roger's Smith's Capture gets out into the streets in and around Cape Town's forbidding Flats more than his previous novels do, and the results make Capture feel more sociable than its predecessors.

The grim shacks remain, and grim things happen inside them (and in rich sea- and hillside houses, too), but characters also punch out drunks in crowded strip clubs or risk their health dodging cars. There's more hustle and bustle than I remember from Wake Up Dead, Dust Devils, Mixed Blood or the novella Ishmael Toffee, more scenes with lots of people in them.

But in the main, the story is Smith's customary mix of damaged characters interacting in dangerous ways, then rushing hellbent to redemption, romance, or messy death. And Smith even offers some laughs along the way:
"When a series of girls accused the guru of messing with their lower chakras he was banished."
And wait till you see what one of those protagonists gets up to with his computer.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012 

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16 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

Check your post title, Peter.

July 04, 2012  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Peter, how does Captured compare to Dust Devils? I really liked Mixed Blood, but Dust Devils was too existentially hopeless for my taste.

July 04, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I wanted to give Roger Smirh some publicity. No one seems to write about him.

July 04, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, have you read Wake Up Dead? In any case, the short answer is that Captured is less existentially bleak than Dust Devils.

July 04, 2012  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

And Roger Smirh thanks you, Peter! The Cape Flats is home to around 3 million people, so it is pretty crowded at times.

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

No, I haven't read Wake Up Dead and have no good reason for it! Must remedy that.

I might need to pick up Captured. I've liked Smith in the past, and I spent a little time in South Africa in the nineties, so it's fun to read stories that are set there.

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, you need to read Wake Up Dead/ If you do post a comment on it, let me know. I'd like to hear about the book from someone who's spent time in South Africa.

Captured is, in some ways, closer in tone to Wake Up Dead than it is to Dust Devils.

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Roger, I remember writing about a scene in Wake Up Dead where a woman scuttles across an otherwise empty street. That what I think about as a typical Cape Town Flats, along with long shots of garbage dumos and crowded houses. I don't remember any social-life scenes in the Flats before this book. Is my memory accurate, and, if so, was this a conscious decision on your part, to look at a different aspect of life in the Flats?

July 05, 2012  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

Peter, the scene in Wake Up Dead was during one of the all-to-frequent gang wars on the Flats, where the innocent take cover and the streets are empty. I was on the Flats a few months ago, and saw houses bullet-scarred and with windows broken from recent fighting. But during the day, in times of relative peace (particularly on weekends) the streets of the Flats are busy: taxis, informal stores, kids at play. At night, of course, the predators prowl and the streets are deserted. The strip club I describe in Capture is not on the Flats, it's in a nearby "white" working class neighborhood, on the very busy Voortrekker Road.

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ja, Voortrekker Road is the setting of many scenes.

Hmm, Dawn lectures Nick as they look out over the Flats from her apartment. I guess that means her job in the book, as degrading as it may seem, is a kind of an escape. Would colored residents of the Flats work on Voortrekker Road?

July 05, 2012  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

For Dawn moving to a nasty, cramped apartment on Voortrekker Rd is an escape from the sprawling Flats across the railroad track: an escape from a world where the sexual abuse of children, rape and murder is epidemic. The colored residents of the Flats commute to all parts of Cape Town daily, on trains and in mini-bus taxis. They are the cheap labor that keeps Cape Town on the picture postcards.

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, sounds like the social dynamic of Voortrekker Road might make an interesting setting, something between the squalid flats and the gated castles. Perhaps it will loom larger in future books of yours?

July 05, 2012  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

Sorry to disappoint you, but Voortrekker Road is barely mentioned in my work-in-progress . . .

July 05, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll swallow my disappointment and read the book anyway. But I did enjoy this book's widening out of setting. Call me post-modern, but I say multiple perspectives are good.

July 05, 2012  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

Then you'll enjoy my many visits to the Cape Town suburb of Sea Point in Sacrifices (2013): "All St Tropez by the ocean and Lagos a few blocks up . . ."

July 06, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm hooked. And I suspect you'll make onto many a college syllabus, if not tourist brochure, by then,

I guess you hinted at that theme in Capture with the occasional reference to Nigerian drug dealers. I don't want to damn you with the curse of seriousness, but you may have something to teach we outsiders about southern African social history.

July 06, 2012  

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