Last night I stayed up, despite the cold and my warm electric-blanketed bed waiting for me, so that I could follow SA Books' Ben William's almost minute by minute coverage of the Sunday Times Awards on Facebook. A bit sad Whiplash didn't win. The Rowing Lesson by Ann Landsman won the fiction prize. It's quite a lovely book about a young woman who goes home to Cape Town when her father is dying. The book moves back and forth in time though her father's life revealing the man in all his colours, some not so lovely, in the beautiful three dimensional way of the human species.
This afternoon I noticed during my Sunday afternoon newspaper read that all three of John Van de Ruit's Spud books have made it to the Sunday Times Top 10 list at the same time (position 1, 3 and 6). They are hilariously fun books about Spud's time at boarding school. I've yet to read the last one as I bought it for my husband, who loves the books, and he is still reading it.
In 2007 when I went to the Cape Town Book Fair the Spud phenomenon was just taking off. I'd read the first book and bought the second one while I was there and got it signed. John Van de Ruit is very nice and quite entertaining. I went to his talk in 2007 and also this year.
This year I bought the third book in the series and realised everything had changed. John Van du Ruit was now a star! Everyday of the book fair I went to get the book signed for my husband and the queue was threaded through the Penguin stand and out along the hall. I'd tell myself "Well this can't last forever, I'll do it tomorrow." And the next day when he was signing books, I'd go to the stand and there was another queue of the same or perhaps longer length. I did this until the last day when I finally had to join the queue and wait as everyone else did.
In front of me was a young man of about my son's age (15). His excitement at being in the queue to get his copy of Spud Learning to Fly signed vibrated the air around him. The thing that I found especially endearing about this young man was that he'd obviously discussed his love of the books with his family at length. Every few minutes a family member would come up to him with little bits of Spud info. One minute it would be his mother reminding her son to get Mr. Van de Ruit to write his full name in the book. Then his younger brother came up with a copy of the first Spud book to show his older brother. Later his father arrived with a blank diary written 'Spud' on the front. The whole family were part of this boy's joyous experience- a teenager getting his book signed by an author. How lovely is that?
I spent the last part of my Sunday, after being taken out for breakfast by my husband, cleaning the house, reading the papers, and seeing said husband off to his first week back at university, enjoying the late afternoon sun on my bedroom sofa reading Exhibit A by Sarah Lotz. I'm feeling a bit bad about admitting my feelings for this writer in an earlier post since now none of you will believe me when I say that this book is great. But it really is. It is laugh out loud funny in many parts. I'm only half through but I love the way she is maintaining the tension, giving bits and throwing in doubts. It is a mystery - a young woman has been raped by a police officer after they throw her in a cell. I know it doesn't sound funny but the characters are my favourite kind- quirky and foul mouthed and mostly very messy. Exhibit A is the dog who has been taken into a witness protection programme of a sort and spends his days mostly in the back seat of the car licking his privates. I'm not even finished with this book and will not do a review since I'm dead biased, but I do highly recommend it.