The first quarter of 2010 ushered in the literary community another tight installment of wordsetc – that kid journal which is gradually growing into an adult. wordsetc aspires, justifiably so, to be the number one South African Literary Journal – the authority, the Bible in the same vein as the South African Medical Journal or Harvard Law Review. For this crisp read to become that heavyweight it needs to feature as many cross-cultural reads and content as possible. It needs to be a mirror that when a literature heads looks at sees white, blue, yellow, black, orange, white, Coloured, unColoured, red and Indian. This issue does that and even goes beyond. Actually eighteen contributors took their brushes and painted on this canvas.
Those who remember the early stages of this journal will reminisce about how we were so afraid that given that it only carried wine ads it risked dying of advertising malnutrition – today the wine I see the most is the one I want to win – Meerlust 2003 Pinot Noir.
That possibility still exists, even post-recession – however I feel that wordsetc has gradually become one of the reads which if the publishers decided to pull a Barcelona FC stunt and seek its fans to dig deep into their pockets to keep it on life support, I will be one of the first people to do so – and I believe that those who have had the privilege of tenders will just close their eyes and pop a million – instead of keeping wordsetc on life support we can take it to a racing track and make it spoil Caster Semenya’s 800 marathon record.
So, to Bra Phakama, the baby has been adopted by the community and it has ceased being yours alone but your brainchild. We are all now the godparents of wordsetc.
Enough about trying to sound educated; this issue of the journal has writers who come from different social background and who write about subjects intimate to them. The journal is no longer about authors’ profiles and book reviews only. If the last issues you had were those banal ones maybe it’s time you contemplated subscribing.
The issue under review has a warm article about what was inarguably our pastime as kids stressed by apartheid policies – reading and sharing crime novels. Justice Malala tackles this subject with the passion of a Japanese in a sushi bar. He takes readers through what one can call ‘Bantu education nostalgia’. True, if there’s one thing black people under apartheid did well was that they read anything that was put infront of them. Darkies under apartheid were more informed than our born-frees and those who inherited a transition.
I remember how I read most of the books Malala touched on and even went to the genre of espionage with Jack Higgins and John Le Carre.
After evoking a sense of nostalgia through the deliberate emphasis on the famed James Hadley Chase novel collection, Malala indicts the current crop of people claiming to be journalists, “every time I see journalists being lazy, I think about Chase. He never stopped. That is why I never stop”. Chase wrote so many books under different pseudonyms at times.
The theme of this issue is CRIME. It is not a coincidence that the cover has magnificent author Margie Orford who is arguably the current Queen of Crime Fiction. Not only do you get to see her on the cover but there are at least eleven pages where she’s been reviewed and interviewed by both Sam Beckbessinger and Eva Hunter. It provides an opportunity to get into her head and discover her literary interests and what fuels her muse.
Overall, as I don’t intend to narrate everything in this installment I will just leave you with a few observations. One of my well-read friends read a story on page 16 titled With the Best Intentions and immediately asked me if there are constables who write such good short stories. Well, Andrew Brown is an advocate and a reservist sergeant in Cape Town. Even with or without such credentials he’s just a brilliant storyteller who mesmerized a well-read friend of mine to think he was on stakeout every night.
There is an article that attempts to unravel the mysteries of Russia, Unravelling Russia, [Bronwyn McLennan] and Timbuktu, Up the River Niger [Joanne Rushby]. There’s something about Chinese cuisine, Childhood Dreams, Served with Noodles [by Emma Chen], a look at crime and punishment (oops correction) [as told to Phakama Mbonambi], letters trying to unravel further mysteries [Thembelani Ngenelwa and Carla Chait] etc.
So, my advice to you, get yourself wordsetc. Someone said I never really review the journal [I’m not objective because I get if for free] because I never pick the warts. For sure, go pick me a wart on The Holy Quran and I will find you one in wordstec.
To subscribe go to firstname.lastname@example.org, to get those copies you missed email@example.com. Optionally go to their website at www.wordsetc.co.za