Books for May


by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


Cold nights and sunny days. April's rain was meagre, but May is looking hopeful.



The dark flood


Donkerdrif in Afrikaans originally, more bleak mood than 'flood'. South African crime novel, set among the well heeled in Stellenbosch. The thread of the story weaving back and forth between the vivid characters.


The Cape is a fickle mistress. On Wednesday she was grey, cold and aloof; by Thursday she was poised to burst into the world as a bright and breezy coquette.


Tokara in Stellenbosch 2016
Tokara in Stellenbosch 2016

Stephen KING

If it bleeds


Four novellas. (Author of Carrie and The Shining - so you know what to expect) He says 'stories go where they want to'.


He gave me one of the looks I'd seen him give his gardener and his housekeeper, but had never turned my way until that afternoon: piercing, skeptical, and rather ugly. These years later, I realize it's the look a perceptive and cynical man gives when he believes he can see inside most people and expects to find nothing good.   


Jaundiced eye of a Cape weaver lady 2011
Jaundiced eye
of a Cape weaver lady 2011


For the mercy of water


Dystopian novel set in the Northern Cape or the Karoo. (A little bit Margaret Attwood) Read for the second time, and it would benefit from editing down by a quarter.


Instead I knelt down and I put my hands in it, and I moved them in front of me in wide circles, and I felt the silken body that is water push open the spaces between my fingers, and the pillows of coolness swelled and softened and pushed against my palms and is gentler than a fleshy hand but heavier and more certain than air.


'I look at her and she smiles' ... When she said this, her face lit up, like the light that hits the surface of a glass statue and passes through it, so that its glow defines the shape of it and forgets the end on the other side.


Blazing hearth Glass art at the Owl House 2010
Blazing hearth
Glass art at the Owl House 2010

Vanessa TAIT

The pharmacist's wife


Gaslighting (no spoilers, but with a soppy ending). A pharmacy in Victorian Edinburgh. Our heroine is his lab rat for developing a new drug. Heroin. When laudanum was not enough to keep his new wife docile.


In the heart of a poppy 2011
In the heart of a poppy


In the unlikely event


'I grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey ... so I have firsthand memories of that time (1951-2) and place. The three airplane crashes are real' - from the Author's Notes.


But we're still part of a secret club,

One we'd never willingly join

With members who have nothing in common

Except a time and place.


Just landed  2010
Just landed 


Deaf sentence


(The author himself is a - don't mumble - older man) I was born with one deaf ear so this book spoke to me. If you follow the words around the cover, they are lifted from the text. Smile and nod, and hope you didn't park both feet in it. Retired linguistics professor whose wife is forging ahead with a new career. The book is part resigned sadness, and part wonderfully funny. The 'sentence' in the title = way of thinking, opinion, mind from OED - so the author dedicates his book to translators (and their special problems with his English title and word play!)


... most of all I had enjoyed the unaccustomed urban quiet. Paradoxically, being deaf doesn't make quietness any less attractive, but rather the reverse. Aural experience is made up of quiet, sounds and noise. Quiet is neutral, the stand-by state. Sounds are meaningful, they carry information or they give aesthetic pleasure. Noise is meaningless and ugly. Being deaf converts so much sound into noise that you would rather have quiet - hence the pleasure of walking those traffic-free streets.  


Oh deaf, where is thy sting?!


Deaf sentence
Deaf sentence


The Enumerations


Noah struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How much trauma, how many layers, back thru generations can one family cope with. Persevere, there is light coming thru as the story unfolds. Why is Noah's father so determined to deny his former life, what is he hiding, why? So many questions. And an insight for this GINK (no kids) to teenage mental health issues.


Morne (morbidly obese) has two brothers - Stuck in the middle, hey Morne? - Piggy in the middle. Varkie in die fokken middel.


Gabriel (Noah's father) - He's an adult now. He can recreate himself. He will not be like his father, his feckless father.


Noah's fives  in Euphorbia's gold rings 2010
Noah's fives 
in Euphorbia's gold rings 2010

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Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

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  1. and with third party cookies enabled by me for my blog, I can comment.

  2. You do a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the books you read with photos.

  3. I always love hearing about what you have been reading. I'll pass on Stephen King -- even though he is a local author; but I will definitely look for Deaf Sentence. Thanks for the recommendations.