Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Black Madonna

It is very hard to do any reading this week that is a bit of a worry because the chances of doing any next week are even slimmer. I blame being in charge of a three year old as one reason and the bitter cold as another. As a result it is almost impossible to get into the groove and focus. Still did manage to do a bit more Lessing.

In this short story collection there is definitely a colonial feeling with The Pig focusing in on a plantation and The Traitor on an old house in the bush.

The Pig hands a jealous man the chance to shoot his rival after the farm owner had called for poachers to be shot. The irony is that the man did not want to shoot anyone for risk of losing face in the village but the chance to kill his young wife’s lover is just one too good to miss.

The Traitor seems almost autobiographical in voice with two sisters playing in the ruins of a house in the bush. One day the original tenant returns and the girls show him back to the house and then reveal that they have hidden all the bottles he consumed in a hole in the ground. Rather than thank them the man and their father seem bemused. The fact that they sided with the man seems to have also damaged relations with their mother who they quickly return to the side of when they get home.

Both stories again show the ability to draw on the briefest of sketches to fill out a motive and a life story for a character.

More tomorrow…

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