Sunday Times

Bit­ter Aloes – Sto­ries from the East­ern Cape ★★★★

- Yvonne Fon­tyn Eastern Cape · Austria · Rhodes University · Iceland · Herman Charles Bosman · Mills & Boon

Mar­ion Bax­ter, Im­print, R240

An ar­chiv­ist at Rhodes Univer­sity, Mar­ion Bax­ter died in 2002 of breast can­cer. In her small of­fice she left be­hind a stack of manuscript­s, with this col­lec­tion of short sto­ries on top. As Prof Dan Wylie says in the book’s fore­word, Bax­ter’s sto­ries are darker and more for­bid­ding than those writ­ten by that master, Her­man Charles Bos­man, and are lib­er­ally sprin­kled with gothic el­e­ments. Pro­saic and ro­man­tic at times, they can swerve to a more know­ing, cyn­i­cal reg­is­ter, leav­ing one feel­ing un­set­tled, but sat­is­fied. The best story is A Fu­ture With­out You, which is de­cep­tive with its Mills & Boon ti­tle: a woman hears from the towns­folk that she will be go­ing away for a long time. Who could be spread­ing this ru­mour? The de­noue­ment comes like a blow from be­hind.

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