Monday, April 6, 2009

The real fiction

I read a book this weekend. That's not really news I guess, seeing as it's something I do fairly regularly. Read, that is. It's just that it was one of those books you can't put down. Or, at least, I couldn't put down.

Whiplash, by Tracey Farren. It's a gritty story set in Muizenberg about a painkiller-addicted prostitute. So, no, it's not my normal fluffy 'chick-lit' kind of book but it's the kind of book that I love - set in a familiar place, with real characters. It's not an easy read, it is sad and violent and scary and, well, gritty. That really is the best word for it. But, overwhelmingingly, it is filled with the human spirit and beautiful, fragile, but firm relationships between people.

In one breath it made me wonder at the cruelty of the society we live in and, in the next, rejoice in the silver thread of love that runs through us all, regardless of our circumstances. Essentially, in comparison to the (very real) circumstances in which this book is set, I am a spoilt little rich kid, and I always find myself thankful that people write books like this so that I can open my eyes too. That makes me sound like I walk around blind to the world, I don't really, I sometimes think I take too much in, but that's another story.

Coincidentally I found myself in Muizenberg for dinner on Saturday with some friends. I was in another world though, my head still in the book, that I had left on my bed. As we drove through the dark streets, I saw her shadows dancing down by the beachfront, the salt air blowing through her hair, as I watched a deal go down in the car in the parking lot over the tracks.

I think I may be blurring my fiction with reality. Or is it my reality blurring with fiction?


Frank J said...

Hiya Shiny

Whilst I'm not familiar with Muizenburg or the 'darkness' within it, I can only speak from, let's call it - 'similar' experiences in the seedire parts of Joburg. Where violence and cruetly in the inner city and suburbs is a reality and deals going down are too.

And in all of that, there's no fiction in the silver threads of love either. They're as real as waffles with ice-cream - even in that seedy underbelly. Trust me, I've been there.

Shiny said...

Frank, I love that you see it. It is SO important for us to - while being perfectly aware, and realistic about all that cruelty - see that silvery thread of love


colleen said...

I am the publisher of Whiplash, and I love how you write about it. Thanks for posting your response, it reminds me of why I decided to publish this extraordinary book.

Maire Fisher said...

And I helped edit this extraordinary book. Tess has become part of me - I often think of her, wonder what will happen to her next. A movie I think ... I don't think I've met anyone who hasn't read and loved Whiplash - to the extent that one of the members of my bookclub was halfway through the book when she had to go shopping and she was very worried about leaving Tess on her own.

It's a must read for all South Africans and all those beyond our borders too!

PS There's a Facebook fanclub for Whiplash too!

Shiny said...

Colleen - Thank you. I meant to e-mail you/Tracy actually after I read it and then wrote that post, and promptly forgot. Am loving the fact that there's such great fiction coming out of SA - it's just fabulous reading books set in familiar places x

Shiny said...

Maire - oh yes! How true. Reading it, Tess was so real and, well, human. I wanted to reach into the book and hug her. Repeatedly x