Book Jacket

 

rank 625
word count 101747
date submitted 23.01.2011
date updated 22.12.2012
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance,...
classification: moderate
complete

THE MINE

A. J. BAVIN

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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afrikaans, afrikaners, apartheid, black, boers, civil disobedience, colour, colourbar, disaster, explosion, guerilla warfare, guerillas, mining, oppre...

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Chapters

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28

 

“Over my dead body,” Olivia had said…

From the window of the manager’s bungalow Evan Cameron watched Charlie Gambon’s Police Land Rover driving away from the compound, Olivia sitting alongside him in the front.

In the course of one day he had managed to lose both his wife and his mine…

That morning, the voice at the other end of the telephone had told him, “The Management has heard your recommendations, Evan…”

The voice was that of Natasha, speaking from her Pretoria office. Natasha was the Company’s Personnel Manager. She was the also the Company’s butcher and herald of unpleasant news; and as ever her tone was icy.

“The Board has finally come to the conclusion that re-opening the Ochatingi mine is no longer a viable proposition…

“I’m sorry, Evan – but that’s the final word. You are to give immediate notice to everyone still on the payroll. A team will be coming out to seal off the mine entrance and to strengthen all perimeter fences… The good news is that any management living in the compound will be allowed to buy their properties from the Company at heavily discounted valuations.”

“And my future… their futures?”

“As I said, you are to give everyone immediate notice.”

“I see,” Evan said. He paused, then asked, “Me included?”

“Well you can hardly give notice to yourself, can you?” Natasha said tartly. “But you should expect its arrival soonest. As I say, like everyone else, you will have the right to buy your bungalow on generous terms, if that’s what you want…”

The conversation was clearly going no further and, as Evan Cameron put the telephone down, he wondered what the future held for them now – and how was he going to break the news to Olivia?

She was sitting out on the stoep flicking through a copy of Time Magazine – a copy that had to be at least six months old: He remembered buying it at Cape Town Airport when he had flown back from a conference.

Without looking up she said, “Do you realise that it was only a year ago that the bloody guerrillas blew up the fuel refinery at Ermelo?”

He didn’t realise it; but he sat down in the chair alongside her, steeling himself to break the news as gently as he could – but Olivia had banged the open magazine angrily down on the table with a force that threatened to split the spine.

“Christ! In this fucking place it could have been a hundred years ago and no one would notice the difference!” she complained bitterly.

Oh, Christ, too, Cameron thought. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time to introduce the subject of redundancy?

Olivia had been discontented ever since he had first been posted to Ochatingi eight years ago, but lately she had become worse – more like a sulky Black Mamba on heat, assuming that was Black Mambas did suffer periods and did become discountenanced by the hormonal changes that they brought on. He had always known Olivia didn’t like Ochatingi: Perhaps she would welcome the news that he had just lost his job, be pleased to be spared having to live out in this backwater any longer.

That possibility was quickly confirmed when, after repeating as gently as he could his telephone conversation with Natasha, he ended by telling her that the only positive thing coming from it was that, if they wanted, they could buy the bungalow at a knock-down price.

“Over my dead body!” she had said; and for emphasis she repeated it again: “Over “my dead body, Evan!

“I’ve already spent eight years buried in this dump: I certainly don’t want to have any more – and with no more wages coming in then not even at a knock down price. Why, we couldn’t even afford the petrol to get me to Pretoria and back.”

Okay, so that was settled then.

He was wondering whether now was the time or place to explore what the future held for them when he heard a commotion down by the compound entrance. Standing up, he saw that the gate had been burst open. Three police Land Rovers were following each other into the compound in quick succession, the first nearly knocking down a protesting Lestunga as they sped past.

The convoy came to a halt in front of the bungalow and Charlie Gambon stepped down from the lead vehicle, a number of his blackjacks swarming from out of the other two. Wondering what on earth this was all about, Cameron jumped down from the stoep and walked across to meet their unexpected visitors.

Gambon hardly paused in his stride, brushing past him and making no effort to return Evan’s greeting. He waved a piece of paper at him as he passed, saying, “I’ve got a search warrant, Man. We’re going to search your bungalow – all of it; and that includes the servants’ quarters.”

There was no “Sorry Evan, but…” about it; and Gambon and his men marched up to the bungalow. Four of his blackjacks went straight round the back whilst the Inspector led the remaining four onto the stoep and towards the front door. As they went past Olivia, reading her magazine, Evan saw her look up, her expression emotionless; and he could hear Gambon saying: “Search Warrant!” as he marched his team through the front door.

Evan Cameron was getting an uncomfortable feeling that he knew what they were looking for – the kerosene can! He had never said anything to Olivia about it; and. she didn’t know he had it or of the reason he had hidden it – yet she didn’t seem to find this intrusion so unexpected. 

Climbing back onto the stoep he sat down beside her, intending to explain all. But before he could say a word to his astonishment Olivia got out of her chair: “Excuse me,” she said stiffly; and she went inside.

Following her into the bungalow, he saw her going to the bedroom and heard her locking the door behind her. What had got into her? Had she, he wondered, known this was going to happen?

The police knew exactly what they were looking for – and they knew where to find it. There was no need for them to search anywhere other than the kitchen and the servants’ quarters; and it was towards those that they headed.

“What the hell is going on?” he asked Gambon.

“Sorry, Evan,” Gambon said, still not looking as if he meant it… “But we have information that leads us to believe there is stolen police property on the premises.”

They had information… From where, Evan Cameron wondered, did that information come? His first thought was the cook: Olivia had sacked her after several warnings that she wasn’t to use the telephone for calling her bookmakers.  The cook must have gone to the police out of spite. Yet the houseboys had told him that she had gathered up her things and taken off for Durban, where she had relatives…

It couldn’t, could it, have been Olivia? He knew that she had been getting unhealthily close to Charlie Gambon ever since the two had been paired in this mixed doubles competition at the tennis club. It seemed strange that his wife should go straight into the bedroom and lock herself in at a time like this – it was almost as though she didn’t want to face him.

Crashing from the storeroom told him that the police were pulling the packing cases out. In a few seconds Gambon came back to the kitchen triumphantly flourishing the incriminating kerosene can, which he waved around in front of him.

“Found it!” he said, looking smug… His expression hardened: he walked up to Evan and stared into his face; and, from just inches away, he shouted, “I found it, you bladdy nigger fucker!

He thought Gambon was about to foam at the mouth, but the Inspector, taking control of himself, carried on with studied deliberation, “I don’t know what you know about this – you or anyone else in your household…

“But you can tell them all – and that includes that kaffir girl I hear that you have befriended… You can tell them first that this is a piece of police property – or it was once, before someone nicked it.”

He thrust the can up under Evan’s nose, who thought that the Inspector was going to start salivating again: “Look at it! What does it say, Man? It says fokking property of the fokking South African police doesn’t it? Why are you hiding police property in your house, Man?

“… And you can also tell them,” Gambon, calming himself again added, “that not only is it police property but also that it’s evidence! Evidence in a murder case, I’ll tell you, Man!”

“Be reasonable,” Evan told the inspector. “It may once have been police property – but who’s to say how long ago it came into someone else’ hands?”

“Exactly so! So the police didn’t have it at the time the fire started in Ochatingi, did they? But it’s still police property, and somebody stole it, Man. I can’t tell you who, right now, but it has to have been stolen by someone in this house – and that includes the Bantu girl. We’ll fingerprint it; and that will tell us who it was that handled it, probably using it to blow up a shack in Ochatingi.” 

“Well Anulka’s no longer here so I can’t answer for her,” Evan said. “Look, if you like I’ll go and ask Olivia if she knows anything about it. I guess you’ve upset her – I can’t think why else she’s gone and locked herself in her room.”

Gambon said quickly, “Oh, don’t trouble her – Olivia’s not a suspect… It’s the black bitch that I’m going to get a warrant for…

“You see, I’m not so concerned about the can being stolen – but whoever hid it here had to have something to hide – knew that it had something to do with that shack being burned down. And bladdy Kaffir that she may have been, an old woman got killed in that fire. That’s what it’s evidence of, Man… murder!”

Remembering that he had never allowed his hands hadn’t come into direct contact with the surface of the can at any time, Evan Cameron was glad he had gone to such lengths. But Anulka must have touched it many times between the fire and her handing it over to him on the following day.

“Just the same,” he said, “if you don’t mind, I’ll go and see what’s wrong with Olivia.”

He knocked on the bedroom door. “What on earth are you doing, locking yourself in there?” he shouted through the door. “Come out, Olivia – the Inspector wants to know something.”

The door was unlocked and Olivia emerged. He pointed to the can Gambon was holding: “I’m sure you don’t know anything about it… but could you just confirm that you have never seen the jerry-can that the Inspector is waiving around the place like a madman?”

Olivia shrugged her shoulders and went to sit down. He hadn’t expected her reply – and certainly Gambon hadn’t either. Looking coolly at her husband, she said, “Yes, I have seen it before, Evan. The cook – rather the ex-cook – showed it me. She said that it had come up from Ochatingi with Anulka and that you had hidden it Rather a silly thing to do; and which I assume means you were trying to protect the girl.”

Gambon gave what seemed like a whoop of satisfaction. He said, “Of course, we shall have to find the cook – but that shouldn’t be difficult.” He poked a finger in Evan Cameron’s chest. “When we do, if she’s still singing the same tune, then I can’t even begin to spell out all the charges that you will be answering to, Buddy Boy!

“In the meanwhile you can redeem yourself some by telling me where that Bantu girl is.”

Giving his wife a sorrowful look, Evan said: “I won’t tell you that, Charlie. In fact I can’t see that there’s any need. I don’t mind betting that, if my wife hasn’t told you already, then she’s more than able and willing to do so.”

He turned towards Olivia, angry and sad all at once: “You bloody Judas!” he said. “How many inches did lover-boy here give you to make you to blab out the comings and goings in this house to him? On your back, were you? On your back, whilst he spilled the milk and you spilled the beans? I’ll bet you were…”

Gambon bridled. He put his fists up and crouched, ready to throw a punch; but Evan Cameron had picked up a chair and was holding it to his chest, the legs away from him, keeping the Inspector at bay.

“Oh, let’s not have any bloodshed,” Olivia implored them. “Can’t this thing be sorted out with some decency?”

She walked across to Charlie and stood as close to him as she could. Taking his arm she asked, “Are you about to come off duty, Inspector? Because, if you are, I would like to come with you – that is if you’ll have me. I’ve had enough of living in this effing dump.”

“I can always be off duty for you, Olivia,” Charlie replied, smirking.

He called his sergeant over and instructed him to take the can carefully back to Duxbury Road Police station, sending the other two Land Rovers with his men back along with it.

“I’ll just pack a few things,” Olivia said.

Chapters

28

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Jorre wrote 74 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.
THE BLAME GAME

Margaret Holly wrote 95 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!

Margaret

Eftborin wrote 361 days ago

HFRG

Hi
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.
Pat

Seringapatam wrote 371 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 385 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.

AJB

donkeyjacket wrote 385 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.

AJB

FrancesK wrote 388 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 463 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 472 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.

Suggestions/Nitpicks:
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.

Best,
Patty
The Greek Maiden and the English Lord

rikasworld wrote 525 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 536 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,

Carol

Abby Vandiver wrote 537 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.

Abby

Andrea Taylor wrote 539 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 556 days ago

D/

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.

AJB

Di Manzara wrote 556 days ago

HI AJ,

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,
D
LEO & ROVER: THE PURPLE MARBLE ADVENTURE

donkeyjacket wrote 600 days ago

Mick/

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.

AJB

mick hanson wrote 600 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 600 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 624 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 627 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 629 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 645 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.

r
The Forest of Vulcanus

writingbear wrote 665 days ago

A.J.,

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.

Dwain-Thomas

Wanttobeawriter wrote 682 days ago

THE MINE
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 684 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 692 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 693 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.
Cariad.

donkeyjacket wrote 707 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!
thanks,

AJB

Sharda D wrote 708 days ago

Hi AJ
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,
Sharda.

Karamak wrote 710 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 726 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.)

AJB

patio wrote 726 days ago

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

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 726 days ago

A.J.,
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 726 days ago

A.J.,
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 728 days ago

A.J.,
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,
Janet
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

fledglingowl wrote 728 days ago

A.J.,
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,
Janet
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

fledglingowl wrote 728 days ago

A.J.,
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,
Janet
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

Jojober wrote 736 days ago

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

uncas wrote 749 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.
Regards,
Uncas

Su Dan wrote 759 days ago

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

donkeyjacket wrote 820 days ago

Jane/

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.

AJB

jlbwye wrote 821 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!
Jane.

Pam B wrote 858 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 859 days ago

THE MINE

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 914 days ago

Thanks - pissing it is!
AJB

micksands wrote 914 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.

Best,
Mick

Nightdream wrote 952 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 957 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 972 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 976 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!

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