Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book: A Human Being Died That Night

I'm currently reading A Human Being Died That Night, by Pumla Gobodo-Madiizela, an incredibly well-written but harrowing account of her meetings with the man known as the Prime Evil of the apartheid, Eugene de Kock.

As I was reading, I became more concious of the language and writing, partially because the author was herself discussing language, specifically that usede to relate traumatic incidents. And as I read account after unbelievable account of horror and so much misery - husbands shot in front of sons, reducing the child to an inconsolable wreck for the rest of his days, for example - I became so glad, so very glad of the words and the pages that seperated me from these stories. I was finding them through several degrees of seperation: they were told to the author and then filtered through the writing to me. Where many would want writing to be a window or doorway, through which one can step and engage in the fiction, I wanted Gobodo-Madiizela's words to be a barrier or even a fortress, to protect me from the narrative. How the victims of such horrors survive as themselves, I can barely imagine.

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