Saturday, May 24, 2014

More highlights from Diale Tlholwe's Counting the Coffins

A few more things to know about Diale Tlholwe's novel Counting the Coffins, discussed in this space yesterday:

1) The protagonist, Thabang Maje, and his bosses, Thekiso and Ditoro, work in the Bedlam Building in Johannesburg.

2) An anonymous bar, away from where "the trendy congregate to congratulate themselves with expensive drinks," is on Nugget Street.

3) Maje tells of meeting another character "at one of those debauched parties that were held every day under the pretext of celebrating our new democracy."

4) A variation on the theme:
"`Nothing is certain or permanent in this world, especially in this country.'

“`Even our new democratic system?'

“`Especially that,' Thekiso said firmly and rose to leave."
5) This exchange, which could serve as the novel's thematic statement:
“`What are you then, now?' Tau Ditoro asked just as suddenly as he had appeared at my side.

“`What do you mean?'

“`A true believer or a sceptic?'

“`A true believer.'

“`In what?'

“`In scepticism.'

“`The only true faith!' he bellowed as he bundled me into the car ..."
6) Followed shortly thereafter, however, by:
"`Too much scepticism can be bad for your eyesight.'"
"Yes," you'll be saying to yourself about now, "this book looks worth reading." And you'll be right.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger Unknown said...

Yes.....but do people really talk that way in life? Of course, that points to the differences between fiction and reality. Most of us live vicariously through fiction but would refuse to live that way for real. Thus, I suppose gives writers license for odd dialogue. It may be entertaining, but it sometimes sounds rather unusual.

May 25, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Funny you should mention that. I was thinking earlier today, possibly inspired by this very book, that good dialogue is of at least two kinds: Routine material stated in interesting ways, and interesting material stated in routine ways. (I must be a pessimist. I neglected to consider the possibility of interesting material stated in interesting ways.)

Counting the Coffins may not be the strongest of novels on sparkling, free-flowing, deceptively natural dialogue. But it is full of compelling matter, and entertaining, stagy dialogue of the kind I quoted in the post.

Remember, too, that these characters live in a world that might naturally be more given to grave discussions about democracy and national purpose than ours is.

May 25, 2014  

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