Book Jacket


rank 624
word count 101747
date submitted 23.01.2011
date updated 22.12.2012
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance,...
classification: moderate



The only time Steiger ever held a black man by the arm was when he needed to inflict discipline on him.


South Africa, 1985. Apartheid is rife - and so is the resistance to it. Against this background a black man and a white man find themselves trapped underground, the sole survivors of a mining disaster. The black has been blinded by the explosion and the white man is badly injured. Segregation or not, only if they can work together can they get out - but do they?

Just say that one escapes. What are the reactions of that survivor to the young daughter of the other - particularly when Apartheid segregates black from white?

Although this story starts with a mining catastrophe, it is of a greater catastrophe that I write: Apartheid - which was a disaster for both blacks and whites alike. Fiction it may be - but it is fiction woven around the framework of cruelty and oppression inflicted by white on black in an attempt to keep a strangle hold on a 'beloved country' that wasn't theirs to hold in the first place.

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Gerda was a Dutch girl – unlike Don, who was a Boer, born out of parents who were Boers, the descendents of those who fought the English at Ladysmith. She was not even first generation South African, but at least she wasn’t English and she wasn’t black – both of which counted for a lot to many Boers. When her father first came to this mineral rich country to work as a cutter of rough diamonds in Johannesburg she had already turned 15 – and to South Africa she adapted easily. That was just as well because within 5 years of settling there her parents were both dead, killed as they drove through a game reserve in Natal their car charged by a rogue bull elephant.

By then Gerda had left school, qualified as a typist and was working for the Ochatingi Mining Company. She loved her job, loved South Africa; and after the death of her parents she could see no reason not to stay. It was when she was working at Ochatingi that Don Steiger came into her life. It was on Company premises and on Company business; and Don Steiger was in front of the Board, needless to say

He had been summoned to appear before the big bosses because he had gone on a one man protest strike, had folded his arms and, spitting at the feet of the overseer, had refused an order to go down the mine.

Why? Because he objected to the conditions under which his men were being forced to work down there. When the Company did something about improving safety and working conditions then he was ready to go back to work. But not until.

Such a strange mixture, she found him as they grew closer – a physical and rather roughly put together man whose exterior hid a very gentle soul. A man who wouldn’t stand for his Kaffirs being subjected to discriminatory working conditions and their lives put in danger. Yet somehow it never seemed to worry him that working alongside them meant his own life was subjected to the very same dangers as were theirs.

She came to learn that this big man was the heavyweight amateur boxing champion of Pretoria. He had never told her that: She had learned it from Evan Cameron, her boss. As they had grown closer she could see how passionate he was of his craft as an amateur boxer and the tools that went with it: His ring skill and, for such a large man, his lightening footwork and the speed at which, from nowhere, he could throw a whinging punch. He had fought in Pretoria and Johannesburg and as far south as Port Elizabeth. When he fought another white man, his fights were received with great publicity – but, if he was ever matched against a black then the fight had to be held secretly, on the football pitch of some run-down township, out of sight of the law. That was the law and it made him rage: Black or white, a boxer was a boxer: He judged the man by his ring skills, not by the colour of his skin


She remembered his knocking on the outer door of the office where she sat hammering the keys of a big sit-up-and-beg manual typewriter. He was late of course. The Board was already convened in the adjoining room and they had been waiting for nearly half an hour.

Looking up from her desk she saw this very large Boer who sat himself down opposite her without waiting to be invited. He possessed the largest hands and feet that she had ever seen on a man; and although his face was nicked and scarred she actually found him rather handsome. Overawed by the size of him, she had said, “Obviously, you are Mr. Don Steiger.”

He nodded, telling her, “Ja, I am Don Steiger; and Don Steiger has come to have a little chat with the Board.”

It sounded as if it was he who had summonsed the big brass to appear before him rather than the other way round; and her mouth fell open in surprise. Sounding nervous, all she could say was, “Right… then I’ll tell them that you’re here.”

“Ja, dankie,” he said. “But don’t let them know that I’m going to read them their horoscopes.”

She thought, not only does he look like a fighter but he talks like a fighter too; and she had no idea how true that was.

Blinking, as if he hadn’t seen her properly before, suddenly he said, “Hey! You are a choty goty, aren’t you?

She couldn’t help smiling; and when he continued, “No, I mean it: You’re a real pretty bokkie,she knew it was intended as a compliment; and although it made her blush she didn’t mind: he wasn’t trying to pull her.

Not then anyway.

Brusquely she had picked up her folders; and it was as she was moving towards the inner door she saw the surprised look on his face when he saw that she was wearing Dutch clogs – real wooden clogs.

She came to tease him about that, when he would respond by telling her: “Just you remember that I had never seen a real Dutch doll before I saw you. But with your clogs and your pigtails…” Always, he would shake his head, going on, “…I knew I couldn’t be looking at anything else. I would try and imagine you wearing one of those Dutch hats that look like an upside down tulip, carrying two pails of milk hanging from a yoke off your shoulders…

“Well, that’s how Dutch girls are supposed to look in Dutchland – but you don’t see it so much in South Africa!”

He had been right about his protest: The Board took more punches from Don Steiger than ever they landed on him; and with Evan Cameron, their recently appointed manager, taking his side, all the security lapses of which he complained were quickly rectified


“We were married before the year was up,” Don told Kingsley. “In a civil ceremony in Pretoria, attended only by my sister Elizabeth, who was Gerda’s maid of honour, and Davey, Elizabeth’s farmer husband. He gave her away and was the best man all in one…”

They lived mostly in the whites’ compound above the township, in something not much better than a rondavel compared to the mine manager’s house. Don was often on call, sorting problems around the mine. But whenever there was a free weekend they would drive south to Friesland’, the bungalow in Tembisa that Gerda had inherited from her parents. 

“…And when holiday time came,” he told Kingsley, “we would happily make the long drive to Davey and Elizabeth Smiths farm on the Orange River. 

No one could say that they were not a well suited couple or, the absence of children apart, that they were not happy.

“The deeds of five black people,” he told Kingsley, “all of them dead now, executed by hanging, put an end to that. The tsotsis robbed Davey’s farm. They raped Elizabeth, raped my wife and killed her and my brother-in-law as well… 

“I suppose you could say that was when everything changed for me. If people had thought of me as ‘Mr. Nice Guy’, they knew that now I was changed. I used to ask myself ‘what was the point?’ What was the point of pretending to be nice when, inside, I was full of hate?

I guess that at that moment I became a monster

I hated blacks so much, Kingsley, that I even refused to box with them any more. Everybody said I’d lost my nerve but I knew better – I knew that if I had found myself in the ring with any black man I wouldn’t have stopped hitting him until I had killed the fucker; and I swear that as long as I had breath in my body that’s what I would have done. Boxing shouldn’t be like that, not full of hate.

Kingsley, pressing his hands tightly against his stomach, said, “Ag, Don Steiger Baas. That is a big thing for any man to live with and not have hate eating him up inside;” and Don retorted, “I’m telling you the bile in my gut would have burned a hole in this rock if it had drained out. I’ve hated every black in the whole of Africa ever since then.”

Then, with a humility that Don Steiger knew he hadn’t shown since the murder, he added, “Although just know that I don’t hate you, Kingsley – there’s something about you that makes me feel different about blacks, Man.”

Pensively, Kingsley said, “A Bantu who was not a Christian would speak to the witchdoctor about these matters. Then he would say he felt cured, that the witchdoctor has burned away his hate

“But me, I would speak to God. God always burns away my hate – even when I tell Him the hate I have for white men because of what they are doing to my country. Then God tells me, Kingsley, there are good white men and bad white men; and there are good black men and bad black men…

“So, do you speak to anyone of this dreadful thing?” Kingsley asked him. 

“Do I speak about it? No! Who should I speak to about it?” Steiger asked. 

“Perhaps it would be good if, even here, you could talk? If you think so, then this black man can listen.”

Perhaps it would be good if he could talk? Don Steiger had never talked to anyone about it – not since he had stood up in court and shouted at the Judge that hanging was too good for these five black robbers. They had forcibly removed him from the courthouse – although it had taken six policemen to do it.

It seemed a bit like making a last confession; and his words came slowly at first… 

“My sister, Elizabeth Smith, and her husband Davey, were very close to Gerda and me. We were bonded by blood, by marriage and most of all by spirit. A Bantu would say we were joined at the hip…”

Understanding that, Kingsley nodded.


On the Orange River, below the Augrabies Falls, Davey and Elizabeth Smiths farm, couldn’t be much further from Pretoria. By road, the geographical distance between their homes was some six hundred miles – and Don had his shifts down in the mine and David worked on his farm for all the hours that God ever gave a farmer. Still, whenever holidays came they made every effort to visit each other, relaxing, catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

Gerda loved going to the place that was farmed by Don’s sister and her English husband. The great falls may have been some thirty miles from the farm but when the wind came from the east you could hear the thunder of cascading water as it plunged over the ledge and rose up again in great spumes of spray: spray that would carry on the wind so that you could feel moisture on the skin. The land around might largely be like a craggy moonscape, but in those places where it could be cultivated, the grasses were lush and green at every season, making it a great place to rear cattle. She was mesmerised by the hypnotic sound of the falls; and at night she would leave their bedroom window wide open so that their distant sound would lull her to sleep. There was no danger.

Don’s delight was wandering the length and breadth of the farm, envying Davey his wide open spaces – refreshing compared with the claustrophobia of working down a mine. He was fit then; and he took great pleasure in helping his brother-in-law out in jobs those jobs Davey couldn’t trust to the farm boys.

 Usually they would drive the long journey to the farm in Don’s Holden truck, the luggage chucked in the back. They took a tent and broke the seventeen hour journey, camping off-road overnight. Always they chose the same small koppie for their stopover. From the top of this hill on a clear evening you could see the Orange River; and even when the tent was in a shroud of mist, lying in their sleeping bags they could still hear its thundering as it surged along its course to the Atlantic.

But on shorter visits they would take the steam train to Upington, where Davey or Elizabeth would meet them in the farm truck and drive them, all squashed into the cab, for the last sixty five miles to the farm.

When the robbery took place Don hadn’t gone with Gerda and she went by train, alone: There had been a problem down the mine and, having put her on the train in Pretoria, he stayed to try to sort it out. Often he wondered, had he gone with her, would he now also be dead, have preceded their killers who went to their own internment in the clay of the burial ground outside Upington prison? Or perhaps he and Davey would have managed to foil them, the Tsotsis? Then everything would be the same: Gerda wouldn’t be dead, Davey wouldn’t be dead; and Elizabeth wouldn’t have endured being raped, once, twice, five times even, whilst the Tsotsis shot Davey and then shot Gerda too. The only reason Elizabeth hadn’t been shot, she told him when he used to visited her in the psychiatric hospital in Pretoria, was because one of the Tsotsis was busy raping her when a deranged member of the gang, crazy with power and with dagga, opened fire

Elizabeth met Gerda at Upington – much embracing and laughter on the platform before they lugged Gerda’s rather extensive luggage outside and bunted up into the back of the truck. Gerda’s cases were not just extensive – she had treated herself to new luggage, so they looked quite expensive, too. Had some passer by or some idling watcher’s gaze fallen on them? Had someone with nothing better to do, wasting time away on the hot street outside, spotted the cases being loaded onto the back of the farm truck and begun a chain of thought that ended in the horrible crime? Nothing of that had come out at the trial, but often Don wondered.

Much gossip exchanged too, as the girls negotiated the long dusty old journey back up to the farm: The only pauses were when Elizabeth, checking in mid flow, would catch Gerda’s arm and point to something, some big cat indulging itself on the warmth of a rocky outcrop, or a herd of Eland stampeding from a danger that to the watchers in the truck remained unseen. As they drove and Gerda was captivated by the passing scenery, Elizabeth took an inquisitive look down at her sister-in-law’s waistline. Did she see signs of developments?

Gerda caught her at it and, folding her hands over her stomach, with an ecstatic smile she told her sister-in-law, “Yes, at last we really think a little stork has come home to roost. After taking all this time trying to start a family it just has to be a miracle.” Touching Elizabeth’s arm she said, “But we’re being cautious and not making any big announcements just yet.” 

It was such a happy day. As Elizabeth drove the last five miles through forest, up the dirt track that led to the farm, Gerda clapped with delight when a flock of flamingos rose up protesting from the surface of the lake that supplied the farm with its water. She loved this last bit of the journey the best: You would emerge from a plantation of wattle trees where impala often grazed and where, when the trees were in flower, one had to brush away wild bees and other insects feasting on the nectar. Then suddenly you were out in the open again – your progress monitored by the soulful gaze of Davey’s placid Brahma cattle. And then the first sight of the clapboard covered ranch bungalow with Wisteria growing up and spreading along the front –this was the farmhouse, always welcoming. 

They bumped slowly along the last of the track, dust rising up behind them; and, reaching the yard where, parking up, Gerda could hear the familiar throb of the generator that gave them their heat and light, coming from around the back.

They went inside. Davey was out somewhere on the farm. Maybe he spotted the dust rising up behind the approaching truck, but he was back within minutes, apologising for not being at home to welcome them. He gathered up Gerda’s cases from the back of the pickup, beat himself with his hat to shake off the dust clinging to him and, inside the house, he picked his sister-in-law up, kissing her and then dusting her down too, in case any of the dust he had attracted to himself found its way on to her.

“Same room, little sister-in-law,” he told her, taking the cases and preceding her down the hallway. “Would you like me to send a message down to Augrabies and ask them to telephone Don?”

Gerda was grateful. There was no telephone out at the farm. Augrabies lay some fifteen miles below them; and if they needed to contact the outside world then it was done on the radio, communicating with friends in either Augrabies or Upington, who would pass messages back and forth for them. Gerda gave her brother-in-law a message for Don, letting him know she had arrived safely and that she loved him. After a few moments Davy, knocking on her bedroom door, shouted, “Message back from Ochatingi. Don says don’t get up to too much mischief!”

Communication was primitive, but it worked.

“I’m off to take a shower,” Davy shouted through the door. We’ll meet for a drink before dinner at five. Dining at six – partridge, shot by me yesterday, if that’s okay?” 

Gerda knew it would be delicious. She unpacked her cases and took a shower from water that she knew was pumped up from the lake and, through the day, was warmed by the sun in a storage tank that sat on legs round the back of the building – ugly; but the system was effective enough. She dried herself down and put on a three-quarter length evening dress that was light enough to be comfortable without being so revealing; and she returned to join her brother and sister-in-law in the living room. Davy had cooled a bottle of their local Oranjerivier dry white, which had come straight from the vineyards at Upington. They sat, the three of them, catching up on gossip and watching the sun setting – a sun which promptly at half past five dropped behind the distant Groot Karas mountains and left the farm to darkness and the raucous sound of parquets flying home to the nearby trees to roost. A houseboy announced dinner at seven. Davy went round the house securing all the shutters and, the generator purring from behind the house, they turned down the lights and, by candlelight, enjoyed the that Davy had shot on the previous day.

There was a lot of laughter; and at the end of the meal the cook came in to be complimented. Houseboys cleared away and everything seemed normal. 

Whilst they took their coffee they talked of this that and the other; and, soon, sleepy and contented, everyone was more than ready to retire to bed


Dawn breaks around seven in the Northern Cape and, waking, Davey slipped out of bed and, opening the shutters, went to make himself a mug of tea: Possibly one for Elizabeth, and for Gerda too, should there be signs of life from either of them.

In the kitchen the first thing he noticed was that the back door was not only unlocked but was ajar. Careless: The cook slept in an alcove curtained off from the main kitchen but the curtain was pulled back and her bed hadn’t been slept in at all. It didn’t take too much investigation to realise that all the other servants had vanished too.

Leaving the kettle on the hob he came back to the bedroom, scratching his head and saying, “I wonder if they know something that we don’t.”

Still half asleep, Elizabeth turned over in her bed, blinking against a sun streaming through the heavily barred windows of the bedroom.

“Who?” she asked “Is something wrong?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. But he’s a strange beast, the Bantu: Always acting as if he’s guided by some sixth sense, spirits – and more often than not, you find that he’s not that far wrong…

“They’ve all gone, the servants. I’m just brewing some tea but I guess we shall be making our own breakfast this morning.”

Elizabeth sat up. “You mean,” she asked, her sleepiness suddenly giving way to apprehension, “that they know that there’s something bad about to happen here?”

Davey saw her anxiety: Elizabeth was always apprehensive about living on a farm so far from civilisation and so isolated from any near neighbours. Joking, he tried to assuage her fear.

“I should say more likely they know there’s a good rugby game on in Upington this afternoon and they’ve all taken French leave to go and watch it.”

He could see that hadn’t entirely convinced her.

He took up his keys and slipped out to his office. It had nothing to do with Elizabeth’s apprehension rubbing off on him: it was just to be on the safe side.

He opened the shutters; and the bars on the window, through which the early morning sunshine flowed, diced it into slices, projected, fan-like, across his desk and the inevitable pile of paperwork that covered it. He crossed to the wall where his gun case was fastened and unlocked it. Perhaps he already knew what he would find: that the guns had gone. Someone had been there before him and his shotgun and his hunting rifle, both had gone. Returning to his desk, he unlocked the top right hand draw and in his haste, pulled it out so violently that it came free from the runners, its contents spilling out over the floor. He didn’t know why he was in such a hurry because, for certain, he knew he would find that his revolver would be missing too.

Through the barred window he could see across the yard to the nearest kraal – into which his cattle should have been driven by now, standing patiently, ready for milking. He saw that the kraal gate was standing open. There were no cattle there and no herdsmen in sight.

He returned to their bedroom, where he told his wife, “I think you’ve gone and got me spooked too, Lizzy. But just to be on the safe side, I’m going to check the locks on all the windows. If I were you, I’d get up and get dressed sooner rather that later; and don’t alarm her – but I’d go and wake Gerda, too.”

As he was checking the windows, he heard Elizabeth scream from the direction of Gerda’s bedroom: a scream of fear, a statement that there was real danger… 

A paperweight was the heaviest thing he saw ready to hand and, grabbing it, he raced across the hallway to where his wife, her hands covering her face, stood at Gerda’s bedroom door. The bars on her bedroom had been forced and two blacks were in the room, one holding a revolver, his revolver, at Gerda’s head whilst the other clawed at her pyjamas, trying to remove them. Davey’s instincts were quick. The black man with the gun was the threat – and even now he had turned weapon away from Gerda, towards him. Davey hurled the paperweight – not at the man’s head but at his chest: Junior County cricketer, Rugby player, Cambridge blue in athletics – all of those things; but it was a long time ago and a long throw: he wasn’t going to trust aiming for the head. 

Elizabeth saw the lump of polished rock smack hard into the chest of the gun toting black, hitting him somewhere just beneath the heart. The man gasped. Snarling with pain and fury he dropped the weapon and dropped to his knees along with it. Then as a blur she saw her husband launch himself at the man, following his projectile.

God! It was the gun that he should be going for the gun, not for the man! 

The gun! Go for the gun!” she shouted urgently. But she was too late.

Horrified, she saw her husband airborne in true Twickenham half-back fashion. He launched himself across the room, his shoulder ramming into the side of the assailant, who was now trying to regain his feet. 

Why hadn’t Davey gone for the gun? It was a fatal mistake. After that everything was horribly predictable: As if in slow motion she watched the other robber let go of Gerda and gather up the gun. Screaming, “No, no!” she threw herself at him, clawing at his face and eyes – only to be easily thrown off. She never saw the second robber positioning himself for a clear line of sight as her husband and the other struggled with each other on the floorbut she heard the shot; and when she looked up it was to see her husband’s head jerk back as the bullet entered the side of his head.

Then the two girls heard the back door being broken down: There was just one crash with the heavy beam their assailants had found behind the barn; and four more Tsotsis fell into the room behind it.

At least Davey never had to witness his wife and Gerda being raped. Two of the robbers, catching the Dutch girl by her arms, threw her back onto the bed; and two others dragged Elizabeth to her own bedroom. Elizabeth could hear Gerda moaning in the next room as she was herself thrown down on her bed and, with her clothing not even fully removed, she felt the black one-eyed snake of the first assailant burrowing between the folds of her vulva and she smelled kaffir beer and dagga from a mouth the teeth of which were embedded greedily into her cheek. Then there was a scream from Gerda’s room and another shot. The man raping her paused in mid thrust for a moment and said something to the other, who went to investigate. Returning, he said something in Swati and her rapist continued on his journey to fulfilment. Then they changed places…


“They shot Gerda,” Don told Kingsley. “The police say that she managed to break free just enough to take a massive bite out the hand of her attacker. That wound convicted them. When he screamed at the pain, the one with him shot her point blank 

“My sister Elizabeth went mad and no one could blame her. She spent nearly a year shut up in an asylum – although she is out now…

“That, Kingsley, is when I changed. When once I had despised my fellow Afrikaaners for their attitude to the blacks, I changed: I came to hate every fucking black man in Africa.”

For some time Kingsley’s head had been lowered. Now he raised it. “I cry for you,” he told Steiger. “I cry for you – and I cry also for all of South Africa.”

He didn’t try to explain that. There was no point. White or black, right or wrong, within the law or beyond the pail – no one could give any answers and certainly not a simple Bantu: The whole business was just too bloody complicated; and South Africa, bleeding freely from its self inflicted wounds, was just too complicated too…



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Jorre wrote 68 days ago

Gripping and smacks of authenticity, find the cuffing and stuff tad overdone, but then again, I speak as a South African so can be I am a bit sensitive. :) Lamentable but such is the common perceptive. Certainly the premise is good and I will be reading more.

Margaret Holly wrote 89 days ago

Read the first two chapters and will certainly be returning for more. Some lovely, evocative writing - "the black hand of a black man in a black, black cave" gave me a real feeling of claustrophobia. I like the way my impression of Steiger's and Kingsley's characters changed as I discovered that Steiger was overweight and Kingsley wasn't quite as certain of his religion as he initially appeared to be. (Is vodoo an African religion?) Neither was Kingsley the wise old black man I was expecting. He turns out to be an activist and a killer, however reluctant. I look forward to seeing how this develops and think the book is likely to find a place on my bookshelf when there's a vacancy.

Good luck with it!


Eftborin wrote 355 days ago


found myself struggling through the first chapter. I had to re-read paras because of so many typos a n repeated words in sentences ('he's'). I began to note suggestions but stopped. for example: Why 'When, 1985,..etc' simply write 'When the Ochatingi Copper mine exploded in 1985,...etc'
Then after '...knew three things.' You write 'The first was that...'
'The second was that...'
'And the third was that...'
I suggest; 'Firstly, he remained barely alive; secondly. his position was precarious; so much so that a betting man (no need) ...etc; thirdly, although...etc'
I feel you have much work to do yet. Believe me, it will be worth reading through; you will realise my point of view.

Seringapatam wrote 365 days ago

Although this is not my bag, I thought I would read it. I am looking for books on Authonomy that I wouldnt normally read and this obviously fits the bill. its a good idea for a story and I think you tell it well. It also stretches across a number of genres too. Nice hooks throughout with a good pace to the book. You describe well in the book and keep the reader wanting more. I think this could do very well. Good luck.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A..O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

donkeyjacket wrote 379 days ago

I found the early chapters had too much backstory - this needs to be paid out slowly as it impacts on the story

Thank you, Frances, for that and for taking the trouble to comment. When the dust has settled from blood andd bullets and packing cases and paint pots (we have just moved home) I will return the read and apply my mind again to 'The Mine.'.

You are by far from the first to have commented on the backstory; and I am going to have to give that serious thought. My difficulty is that I am trying to acheive a story set against an historical, political background. Yes, spread it out may well be the answer.


donkeyjacket wrote 379 days ago

I found the early chapters had too much backstory - this needs to be paid out slowly as it impacts on the story

Thank you, Frances, for that and for taking the trouble to comment. When the dust has settled from blood andd bullets and packing cases and paint pots (we have just moved home) I will return the read and apply my mind again to 'The Mine.'.

You are by far from the first to have commented on the backstory; and I am going to have to give that serious thought. My difficulty is that I am trying to acheive a story set against an historical, political background. Yes, spread it out may well be the answer.


FrancesK wrote 382 days ago

It's rare to find a novel set in South Africa, even rarer one that deals with mines. I enjoyed this book, though with the benefit of hindsight, now that apartheid is finished and South Africa is a democracy, it's less unsettling and uncomfortable than it should be. Your characters are drawn with warmth and understanding, but I found the early chapters had too much backstory - this needs to be paid out slowly as it impacts on the plot. The landscape, lifestyles and politics of the 1980s are well evoked. Beware of using cliched similes. Thank you for this human story.

Mooderino wrote 457 days ago

I found this an interesting premise. The pragmatic, does what needs to be done, white guy, and the spiritual, god-loving black man both stuck in a horrible situation.

I think there was maybe a little too much exposition and backstory in the first couple of chapters. Don’s assessment of the situation is all fine, but whenever he thinks back to how he got there or what life is like in South Africa in general it tends to lose any momentum you’ve managed to get going. There isn’t too much of that so it’s okay, but it is noticeable.

It’s far more noticeable in Kingsley’s first chapter. There’s a lot of explaining of his life, both in family terms and political terms. And a lot of names. Far too many to keep up with.

I appreciate that to give the story some grounding you need to give an idea of what kind of life these people live, but throwing dozens of names at the reader is not a very effective way to do it since after the first few none of them stick. I would suggest you need to be more selective and focus on the situation more than the backstory early on.

Not that I’m against backstory—I find stories that just leap into the fray shallow and confusing—but I think you’ve gone a bit too far in the other direction. And it’s especially something to be wary of right at the start of the story when you’re trying to draw the reader in.

When you do focus on the accident the writing is very strong and vivid. Once you get to what’s going on up on the surface the momentum picks up again and it moves along very well.

Patty Apostolides wrote 465 days ago

The Mine -
Historical Review Chapters 1-3

This is a powerful story from the very beginning. It starts with a lovely poem that almost feels surreal, because it is so beautiful and so different from the horrific mining incident that follows. Although 1985 isn't quite a historical time period for me, the story feels like it's timeless. The conflict between man and nature, and man's survival is very strong in these first three chapters.

Inside a mine, where blacks and whites are working, an explosion occurs, and unleashes a destructive force that kills several people. We get a glimpse of two survivors and their thoughts, as they struggle in the aftermath and darkness. One is white, and the other is black, blinded by the incident. The "boss" is outside with 200 other people, waiting to find out the news. He descends inside, only to find out the damage and carnage was great. He barely escapes as another explosion occurs, leaving five volunteers behind who did not live through the explosion.

The tension and emotional investment is immense as we identify with the survivors, and see their hopes, fears, and dreams.

I don't see hope around the bend, hope that buffers the shock of death, at least not for several chapters, something that would keep me turning the pages. I can only guess that from this disaster something good will come?

Highly starred and will keep on my WL for future reading.

The Greek Maiden and the English Lord

rikasworld wrote 519 days ago

I enjoyed reading this a lot and will try and get back to read on just for pleasure.
I like the character development and your writing style very much. I wasn't really criting I'm afraid but I did notice one typo at the end of Ch. 9 . You've written 'have' instead of 'hate'. Freudian slip I should think as the previous paras were about rape.
High stars

carol jefferies wrote 530 days ago

What a great start 'The Mine' is. I read the first four chapters, and it made me thirst for more.

Your writing makes compelling reading, and the characters, Steiger, as a tough, brutal white man, and Kingsley, a far more compassionate, black man are both very convincing, as is the setting. I especially liked the idea of Kingsley being blinded by the accident in the mine. ( I just hope he doesn't miraculously have his sight restored later.)

However, I would have liked your story to have been written in the present tense rather than the past.

Some of your writing could be reworked to improve the flow. Try and replace passive words like, 'that,' 'begins,' 'of the,' 'turned', 'some of the', 'was' and 'were.' I know because I have just done this to my work and it reads a lot better.

Best Wishes,


Abby Vandiver wrote 531 days ago

The writing is good and the story interesting enough. It was able to hold my attention and made me want ti read more. You seem to like semi colons. Gramatically they are used used differently than you use them here. I was somewhat confused on the flashback to the cause of the explosion but once I got it it read very well.

Good job.


Andrea Taylor wrote 533 days ago

Brilliant. Had me breathlessly reading. And this is not a subject that would normally catch my attention, so that says it all. Think this will get published, too.

donkeyjacket wrote 550 days ago


In the words of Chas, in Cat Ballou, 'You are an absolute sweet little sugar plum - and, one day, somebody is going to come along and eat you up...' (A slightly o.t.t .way of saying thanks - but thanks.)

Looking forward to Leo & Rover.


Di Manzara wrote 550 days ago


This to me looks terrific. The title and pitches are good, well-written. I've WL this for now. I'll come back soon to read it.

It's me,

donkeyjacket wrote 594 days ago


Thanks for that. The typos all done and dusted; and I will give careful consideration to your other comments. Showing, not telling, is a particular bete noir of mine: First, I think that the principle is greatly overstated; secondly, a soliloquy apart, it is really rather difficult for one character in one chamber to have much of a conversation with anyone; and thirdly, you can 'tell' in a single paragraph what has to take several pages to show - and the story already runs to 100,000 words as it is. 'Them' referrs to the mining community at large, which I had hoped would be obvious; and many Christians, black and white, presumably because they were Christians, fought against Apartheid - so, on those points, I stick to my guns: But grateful, none-the-less for your input.


mick hanson wrote 594 days ago

Using a mine disaster in the initial introduction of your characters is really quite unique. I think what seems to have happened with your writing is that these opening chapters are totally dominated by the narrator. In the first chapter it is at times difficult to differentiate between the narrator and the white foreman, because they seem to use the same language/accent as in "bladdy." "picaninni" and one or two other instances that have racial overtones. I think it would have read better if you'd have used the spoken word instead, thus showing the reader rather than telling. At one point you also seemed to switch to plural tense? "... water dripped down on "them" from the rock canopy above "them" ..." whereas before it had been "him" - also the dreaded typos that need to be pointed out I guess. "They didn't need (a) brain ..." chapter two "... unable (to) see the light..."in addition you've missed out a number of letters from some words so that, "that" becomes "tat" etc

Then you come to the black man in the second chapter, who for some reason is in chamber 32 whereas the white guy is in chamber 33? (are they connected?) The narrator's voice then changed and it seemed at times that I was reading something from Uncle Tom's Cabin, with regards to his religion, his sexual encounters, and his life-style. Also if he his a freeedom-fighter would he have the religion of the white man his oppressor, after all Christianity was taught to the African wasn't it?

The sense I got from the second chapter seems to place the narrator in the position of uncertainty. After all it is a white man writing about a black man. The thought did cross my mind that if you were black would you have written about a black man in this fashion? I know that you are laying the foundations for what is to come later, but I was hoping you would show the reader, rather then tell them. I think there needs to be more of a balance in order for the story to have greater impact.

This is set in a very crucial period in South African history, when the world waited. It is the time of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, where protesters were gunned down in the streets of Soweto and political tensions were at breaking point. I wish you well with this book, it is a very big story to tell, but feel you should let the characters take over and let them develop. Regards Mick "It Was a Kind of Cold, Grey Morning"

philip john wrote 594 days ago

I have dipped into this at random, partly because I do not have time to read every word but also because I like to see if the style and momentum of a book are maintained. So many people start a story well and then lose their way very quickly. But not you. This is very good stuff. Crisply written and drawing the reader along at just the right speed. Well done!

Philip John

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 618 days ago

Hey AJ - I read the first two chapters. Firstly, I love the topic - south africa and the apartied will also be a point of interest to me so I was already sold on the story line. For chapter I enjoyed the feeling of the solitude that Don Steiger was experiencing once the blast had happened and his 'tough' character really came through very effectively in the descriptions. I thought you used the quietness following the blast really well in both characters as an opportunity to offer the readers some background information on both characters before it was time for them to meet. Your style of writing is very clean - beautiful afrikans underlying rhythm - very enjoyable and very well written. congrats :)

Andrew Esposito wrote 621 days ago

I found the The Mine to be a captivating read. The primary character, Don Steiger, appears via good description in the first few chapters. I liked his tough boxer background and his enormous size being humbled by his horrific leg injury due to the Ochatingi Mine collapse. The enormity of the Mine incident and the urgency of the rescue is captured well both above and below the surface.

Mike Cameron is another strong character that is embroiled in the world of apathied and segregation. I found the constant use of 'Kaffir' a bit disconcerting - although I trust that it is in keeping with the time setting of the novel.

Kingsley Longfellow is an interesting character, I like the cliff hangers at the end of each chapter, and Kingsley becoming blind was a good incentive to read on. The narrative is well written, analogies such as 'a dentist in hell' was both vivid and entertaining. AJB, I think you have crafted a good novel and expect The Mine to be popular on authonomy. I'm glad I found it and I've rated it high stars. best regards, Andrew Esposito / Killing Paradise

Marva G wrote 623 days ago

I read one and bit chapters - only time stopped me from reading on. Great writing style - wonderful descriptions, at one point I had to remind myself to breathe as the dust was only on the page! You also showed your skill at capturing different rhythms for the two main characters. High rating and watchlisted without trepidation.

R. Dango wrote 639 days ago

Very interesting story with a capturing opening of a mine scene. And, yes, a beautiful and heart breaking poem.
The story reminded me of the Apartheit days of South Africa (from what I knew from the medias), and the dark and risky atmosphere of a mine at the same time. It is especially interesting because we hear about mine accidents a lot these days. I will come back and read more.

The Forest of Vulcanus

writingbear wrote 659 days ago


I had to back your book. Very good! If you could take a look at my novel, DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, your help will be appreciated. Good luck and happy writing.


Wanttobeawriter wrote 675 days ago

This is a story with a dramatic beginning: a cave-in at a South African mine. Steiger is a sympathetic character when he is first introduced but the more he describes himself I found him less likable than I thought he was going to be. I suspect he’s a character a reader has to grow into. Kingsley, in contrast, I found likable and sympathetic from the start; imagine what it would feel like to not only be trapped underground but be blind as well. I’m a little claustrophobic so either one of those things sends shivers up my spine. You’ve created a great setting for this story; and it’s clear from the start: this is not a story about two men trapped in a mine. It’s about the odd way we categorize people or choose our friends based on insignificant details. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Get busy spamming and asking for reads so this moves up the pile. It’s too good to get lost in the slushpile here. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Tarzan For Real wrote 678 days ago

Compelling characters, vivid account of the mine explosion, and a theme that still echoes loudly to many. I am a fan of this realistic writing. A few grammatical errors but in no way detract from this powerful story.

I agree on the voodoo reference and the research for South Africa needs a little work. Hammer out those minor details and this will roar even louder.

I'll get this on the watchlist when I get some space.--JL "The Devil Of Black Bayou

Camac wrote 686 days ago

AJ - I was living in Jo'burg in 1985, although not employed in the mining industry, so your story was one I particularly looked forward to reading. It doesn't disappoint - it's high-quality writing. The characters are well-drawn, as are the scenes both below and above ground.

I've read the first four chapters and made some notes:
In your pitch you write 'Apartheid is rife'. That is like classing it as something akin to famine or disease.
Bantu was an almost obsolete term in 1985.
Voodoo is not a word used in South Africa. SA blacks consult Sangomas or Nyangas when wishing to contact the spiritual world.
Machetes are known as Pangas in Southern Africa.
Slim Schmidt, presumably a white man, would not have called Cameron 'Baas'.
In ch 4 the continuous use of derogatory terms by Steiger towards Kingsley seems over the top given that we already know his feelings towards Africans. In his present situation surely he has more pressing needs.

I'll return to read more. High stars and I'll be looking to back it when space is available.

Camac Johnson
Hemingway Quest (I'd welcome your comments!)

Cariad wrote 687 days ago

Saw this recommended on the forum and came to have a look. The issue of aparteid will always be one - blatant or not, I think, sadly. Your book will therefore always have something to address. I don't have much to say really - no obvious typos or bits where I got confused or whatever - just a fairly seamless read - the story sucked me in really quickly. Like your characters - something likeable about the white guy - a product of his time and circumstances more than an out and out racist - a human character, and the black guy also. Both seemed to be fully rounded, believable people even in a small space of writing, and the images of the church and the mine also well drawn. I shall give you some stars and keep reading, and definitely a shelf space when one comes free.

donkeyjacket wrote 701 days ago

God bless you, Lady! I wish I was enjoying writing it just now - but we all have bad days. Helped by your kind comments, I shall pick myself up, dust myself down, tear up my last chapter - and start over!


Sharda D wrote 702 days ago

a return read for your kind support of Mr Unusually's Circus of Dreams. Thanks again for that.

This is wonderful. A gripping situation, some wonderfully well-judged writing, two interesting and contrasting characters set against the backdrop of a country trying to hang on to an abhorrent political regime. Don't think you could write a better premise.
The execution is wonderful too. There is some powerful description - the pool of dark blood, dismembered limbs etc. Each character's voice and POV comes in through the narration seamlessly.
I am seriously impressed by this.
6 stars for now and a future place on my shelf.
All the best,

Karamak wrote 704 days ago

I enjoyed this book, you hooked me from the start and with the blacks did what he bladdy told them I got the feel of the narrative straight away, a bold choice to write about but I like to be contraversal so why not? High stars Karen Faking it in France.

donkeyjacket wrote 720 days ago

Thanks, tons. You know, if it's not going to provoke debate, evoke memories or raise a few eyebrows, I can't see it's worth writing. What astounds me is that it is doing so much better than my first, 'So Sour the Grape'. Maybe your first book is like your first love – you never forget it; but, to me, that one says so much more than this one ever will.

Missus' birthday tomorrow - nobody likes hitting certain numbers, but after we've all jollied each other along and ended up on Alka Seltzers, 'Inside Dead', I promise, will receive my undivided attention (unless it happens to be fine enough to play golf – when it will be the day after.)


patio wrote 720 days ago

you are brave to take on provocative subject. but i like that

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 720 days ago

Your book starts out with a mining accident and expands from there, the threads spanning outward, connecting with relevant scenes, backstory and characters. Don and Kingsley are sympathetic players one can only cheer on as they face overwhelming odds. Your pacing is brisk even as you touch on the historical and political reasons for the events taking place. Thanks for the intriguing read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 720 days ago

Your book starts out with a mining accident and expands from there, the threads spanning outward, connecting with relevant scenes, backstory and characters. Don and Kingsley are sympathetic players one can only cheer on as they face overwhelming odds. Your pacing is brisk even as you touch on the historical and political reasons for the events taking place. Thanks for the intri8guing read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

fledglingowl wrote 722 days ago

You've really started with a bang. Clean, powerful writing. Such a great man's story. Like Steiger, love the truthfulness in your writing, your not trying to be politically correct. A period piece only reflects real history if it is told in the language and social awareness of its time. Hope you get away with it when you are published.
Caught a couple of little errors. Listing them only because I can never find my own and love when people point them out for me. If they annoy you, ignore them.
or had it came from above -- come from
He knew he had lost ... but he didn't how many -- didn't know how many.
The limited light it gave enabled to see --- enabled him to see
Really, that's all I saw. The writing is good, the flow and intensity great. High stars. Keeping you watchlisted until I can read more.
Good luck on your writing,
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

fledglingowl wrote 722 days ago

You've really started with a bang. Clean, powerful writing. Such a great man's story. Like Steiger, love the truthfulness in your writing, your not trying to be politically correct. A period piece only reflects real history if it is told in the language and social awareness of its time. Hope you get away with it when you are published.
Caught a couple of little errors. Listing them only because I can never find my own and love when people point them out for me. If they annoy you, ignore them.
or had it came from above -- come from
He knew he had lost ... but he didn't how many -- didn't know how many.
The limited light it gave enabled to see --- enabled him to see
Really, that's all I saw. The writing is good, the flow and intensity great. High stars. Keeping you watchlisted until I can read more.
Good luck on your writing,
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

fledglingowl wrote 722 days ago

You've really started with a bang. Clean, powerful writing. Such a great man's story. Like Steiger, love the truthfulness in your writing, your not trying to be politically correct. A period piece only reflects real history if it is told in the language and social awareness of its time. Hope you get away with it when you are published.
Caught a couple of little errors. Listing them only because I can never find my own and love when people point them out for me. If they annoy you, ignore them.
or had it came from above -- come from
He knew he had lost ... but he didn't how many -- didn't know how many.
The limited light it gave enabled to see --- enabled him to see
Really, that's all I saw. The writing is good, the flow and intensity great. High stars. Keeping you watchlisted until I can read more.
Good luck on your writing,
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

Jojober wrote 730 days ago

you have captivated the peoples minds by your vivid narrations.keep it up.sure to back you after reading.

uncas wrote 743 days ago

This is a very interesting book indeed. It creates a sense of presence in a way that is both colourful and realistic. I like the down to Earth writing style and the subject matter, while perhaps already understood by many, is brought to life in a way that will be revealing to many more. Well done AJB - this is a notch or two above average and deserves to do well. I wish you all the very best with it.

Su Dan wrote 753 days ago

good subject and setting...good solid writing style that brings your book to life///
l will back...
read SEASONS...

donkeyjacket wrote 814 days ago


You are too kind - and that came when confidence was at an all-time low and self-doubt ruled, OK.

Political Correctness? I have often wondered about that - and have hitherto concluded that, today, anything goes. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that today, whilst one (and count me out) may be as lewd, licentious and sexually explicit as one wishes, with politically correctness, step one inch over the line and one will pay the price. Two unfortunate remarks by Jeremy Clarkson when on the One Show bear me out: The one about suicides in front of tube trains impeding his journey home; and the other about shooting striking civil servants in the street in front of their families. Interesting, the furore that the latter caused, even if on no account could it be taken literally - whilst the former, really offensive and insensitive in my opinion, went almost totally unchallenged.

I try not to do the sexually implicit (unless I am being inane) but I have, hitherto, tried to tell the story as it was. Maybe I am going to have to think about that harder.

Thank you, anyway.


jlbwye wrote 814 days ago

The Mine. Your pitches promise an interesting story, which covers the problem of race in Africa in a different manner from what I have attempted, and I am intrigued.
I make notes as I read, but dont pretend to be an expert.

Ch.1. Well written and well crafted. I am impatient to discover what happens next, but interested in the mining details you provide, and the introduction to the MC's background and character is skilfully done.

Ch.2. A small nit: you repeat 'switch' in the 4th paragraph, and 'almost' is a word best left out. In fact, if you deleted 'almost immediately' I think you'd agree the sentence would be tighter.
The contrast between God-fearing Kingsley and Don the epitomy of apartheid is authentically portrayed. In reality, of course, the difference would have been much more pronounced and all sorts of forbidden words used. I commend your skill in achieving your aim with offence for modern readers. It is not an easy path to tread.
I dont think you need to tell the reader he experienced a moment of considerable fear. You show it well enough. And would it be better just to say that lying still, Kingsley gave thanks...?
Again, I admire your technique in introducing Kingsley's back story as thought-wanderings as he comes to grip with his dire situation. So natural.

Ch.3. Another scene, and more characters are introduced in a way which is easy for the reader to follow without confusion. Masterfully done.
But with the sensitivity of modern readers in mind, you might have to think of alternative ways of referring to 'blacks', and 'whites', 'kaffirs' etc.etc. I know in those days the words were bandied about freely... but in my quest for a publisher for Breath of Africa, I've had to be so careful - and I still havent found one!

I can see you're an accomplished writer. Your work needs some refining, but we all have to do that. You know how to develope characters, and a plot. But I wonder about the publishability of your book in its present state. The language is authentic, but I question whether the world is ready yet (or will ever be ready) to be exposed to it.

Multi-starred for quality and courage!

Pam B wrote 852 days ago

It's so refreshing to read a well written story especially just after reading one that wasn't!

However, I haven't read much as the subject matter & genre are not ones I would normally read. Having said that I think your opening is excellent, as it draws the reader into the story whilst making the lead character someone who is interesting, that is with the potential to change or develop either for good or bad.

I would appreciate a return read with constructive criticism, if I get the time I will be back to read more; as it is I have given yours a rating well deserved, of 4 stars.

Best Wishes
Pam Balsdon
The King's Blessing

a.morrison712 wrote 853 days ago


As I tell everyone, take what rings true and pitch any advice you think is bad. Only you know what is best for the story. I’m also not too great at grammar, so I’ll steer clear of that for the most part. Below are my comments:

CH 1

Okay you throw us right into the action. We find ourselves in a predicament with your MC. Trapped in the mine. No working our way up, here we are right smack-dab in the middle of the good stuff. I like your style already. Dropping us in the middle of the action.

You say “over seeing the black fellers...” This makes me wonder what time period this is in? Still early in the story, but I’ll be looking for hints why your MC would use this word choice.

I like the description of “durra” being the sound of the drill.

Nice hook at the end with the realization that he is also deaf. You just added another layer to the story and I see a ton of potential about where this can go. I’m going to say I was pleasantly surprised by this first chapter, at certain points I found myself just reading to read, and forgetting to crit. I’ll admit, I saw you were a lawyer and thought the prose might be a little dry or lack emotion. I’m happy to find that this is not the case!

CH 8

I think I would resonate with the line, “I think that’s when I became a bit of a monster...” If it would be changed to, “That’s when I became a monster.” It reads stronger and leaves the reader with more of an impact. This was a really nice paragraph though. I’m empathizing with the MC.

I do have one question. You mentioned that your MC finds Kingsley in the mine, blind, etc from an explosion. I’m naturally wondering how long Kingsley has been down there, how a blind man has been able to survive for so long, etc. I’m sure these are things that you will resolve but I just wanted to point them out that they should be addressed ASAP, so that the reader/publishers/agents aren’t thinking that this isn’t believable.

“...same journey to heaven or hell” stopped me in my tracks. I love that line! Kingsley is really an interesting character and I like him already. There is something endearing about him. Good job with his characterization.

I’m assuming you may be from England? I see a statement here that has a totally different meaning in the U.S., than what I think you are trying to convey. “That, Kingsley, is why I hate fucking blacks.” Just take a look at that, if you are from the States you’ll see what that means by reading it over. The word, “fucking and hate” need to be flip-flopped to make this mean that your MC just REALLY hates blacks, otherwise it means something else, I think you can figure it out.

Anyways, I think this has A LOT of potential. There is suspense, drama, nice flashbacks, characters that have depth and real emotion. You get six stars from me. My one MAJOR crit is I don’t think your short pitch is doing your book justice and that it could attract more readers. Especially if it was just something along the lines of letting us know a man is trapped in a mine. In my mind, simpler is MUCH better for the short pitch. Good luck with this!

donkeyjacket wrote 908 days ago

Thanks - pissing it is!

micksands wrote 908 days ago

Great first chapter. It pulled me right in. My only comment is that I can't imagine a big, rough bloke like Steiger saying 'peeing'. Surely it would be 'pissing'? Looking forward to reading more.


Nightdream wrote 946 days ago

The poetic words in the beginning was a nice read. It sounded great reading and coming off my tongue. The beginning of YOUR story was good. I like how you stated the three things that Don knew: nearly dead, nearly dead (no man would bet on his survivle), and nearly dead (his leg was pretty much gone). I was thinking: Was he stuck beneath some rubble? Was he buried underneath the remains of the mine explosion? All this was great because it makes me want to read on (even though its only the first couple of paragraphs LOL but I find small things like this a good pull further on the slingshot).

GREAT intro. Starting with a bang I say. Your writing flows in a way that makes the read double it's normal speed. I'm not a fast reader but I felt like I was with your first chapter. I love Don, he's easy to relate too, I felt for him through all of this especially when he went deaf. That was definitely a good spot to finish the chapter with. 6 stars for the flow, story, and Don Steiger. Though he was 52 years old he reminded me of who I am. I just changed my entire shelf so I can't add you now. But hopefully in the future I will get you up there.

Your writing is actually really good and like I said you are a funny guy.

I don't know about using Steiger in your narration. I think it be better to just use Don.

strachan gordon wrote 951 days ago

An interesting account of an era which is not very well known in England in terms of the way people actually lived in Soutrh Africa , the Apartheid system was easy to understand as a principle , but hard to really understand how it actually translated into every day life. The mine with its structural faults could be a metaphor for the system I don't know if that was your intention . Clear , incisive and very well-written . watchlisted and starred . I wonder if you would be able to look at the first chapter of my novel 'A Buccaneer' set amongst Pirates in the 17th century ,with best wishes from Strachan Gordon

Walden Carrington wrote 966 days ago

As the author of historical fiction, I can appreciate the research that went into this account. The problem of Apartheid in South Africa is complex and this is a fabulous way of educating the public about it. The dramatic story of a mining catastrophe with the historical flashbacks illuminates problems that have been going on for years which are rooted in deep-seated racism. THE MINE gets six stars for this brave approach to bringing to light a troubling situation of concern to people around the world.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

RossBrodie wrote 970 days ago

I really like the idea of the white and black man trapped within a mine. The physical incarceration at the beginning paves the way for the ideological restrictions and prohibitions that place this story, which from the contractors of apartheid and repression, stand upon a drama, upon a well born stage of turmoil and terror. I have made a cursory browse through up to chapter 12, seems to be an epic journey. Actually liked the inclusion of police inspectors and the back story of the boxer which, through the physicality and the race relations, contributes towards this massive fictional, quasi fictional essay and critique of race relations. I wonder what your thought when you saw blood diamond at the cinema or on DVD? As perhaps this too has a similar engaging drama with respect to the white and black characters having to co-operate but at the same time been at odds with each other. I think to write a book like this would require extreme concentration and very very keen faculties of the mind, a concentrated sense of perspectives and history. I could never accomplish such a thing myself!