Thank you...

... for taking the time to stop by. I hope some of these ponderings will resonate with you.

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(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 31: Not all beds are the same

“The bed comprehends our whole life, for we were born in it, we live in it, and we shall die in it” - Guy de Maupassant


The Bed Book of Short Stories
This compilation of short stories by women from Southern Africa - some well-known, others new voices - was compiled by Lauri Kubuitsile, edited by Joanne Hitchens and published by Modjadji Books, which is run by Colleen Higgs and who first came up with the idea of a themed collection. She says about the theme of the bedroom that "although I was wary of the stories being too explicit about sex, it seemed just the right theme to capture the imagination of reders and writers alike."

And indeed the stories in this collection look at the theme from all kinds of angles - from the tragic to the humorous, from the sweet and sensual to the bleak realities of death, poverty, loneliness and abuse.

I read the stories bit-by-bit after I discovered that trying to read them in one go did not really work for me.  Although the combination of different approaches and textures is interesting, I normally like to get my teeth into a book and this is often difficult with short stories, even when they are written by one author.

After I started reading them "in between" other things I started enjoying it more.  Maybe it is also because the quality of the writing is not consistently excellent.  Most of it is good and some even outstanding, but some of it lacks coherence or that 'something really special'. Occasionally some of the writing is self-conscious and I found the structure of some of the stories somewhat problematic in places - but I have to remind myself that tastes differ and that some of these stories come from people whose work is virtually unknown. Being published in a volume like this must be a major source of encouragement and joy.

In general it is a very good showcase of the creativity and of the many stories that people - and especially women - from the Southern African continent have to tell.

The textures of different emotions and the different interpretations of the simple theme of the bed make for a refreshing read.  If you pick this up and start reading and find the going gets tough after a while, do what I did and keep it somewhere where you can pick it up for a few minutes rather than to get stuck to it for hours on end.  In that way each author has her "moment".

There are some life lessons to be learnt from some of the narratives, while others are sheer fun.  I have met a number of the authors and although their personalities and backgrounds differ and are reflected in what they write, that is perhaps the exact reason why collection like this works as a showcase and stepping stone to even greater things.

I applaud people like Colleen, Lauri and Joanne who are working hard at giving opportunities to new authors -  and especially women -  to have their stories - whether short stories or novels - published.   I also applaud the writers for participating in such a project.


My bed's "Girly bed" look. Mostly occupied by cats rather than dainty fans, though

Text: © Lee Labuschagne - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


  1. I also enjoyed it most - as with all short story collections - when I read the stories inbetween other reading.

  2. Lovely review -- honest, thoughtful and encouraging. I agree that the quality is uneven, but that's inevitable when you throw novices and experienced writers together. But both categories have so much to learn from each other.

    Helen Moffett


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