Sunday, 18 November 2007

Review: "Celebrating Bosman"

In my recent trip to Inverness, I finished "Celebrating Bosman: A Centenary Selection of Herman Charles Bosman's Stories". I love short stories, as they are well suited to travel, and this collection was particularly satisfying.

The collection begins with a handful of pieces centered around Bosman's life and times, including edited selections from "Cold Stone Jug", which I read less than a month ago. The edited selections most notably omit the hallucinatory elements of the work, but are a good introduction to the material. I would still recommend taking the time to read the entire work. There are additional autobiographical pieces that give us a nice sense of Bosman's character, his willingness to seek out interesting people and circumstances both to amuse himself and to have a story to tell afterward.

The time spent seeking out grizzled old characters and listening to their stories was not wasted. In the bulk of the collection, Bosman demonstrates a deep love of South Africa, the landscape, its people, their culture, but also of storytelling itself, the skill and nuance that go into a good story.

The stories are rich and touch on love, war, family, loss, nature, and all with a uniquely South African perspective. It would be unfair not to mention the racism that pervades the culture in which Bosman's most famous character (Oom Schank Laurens) tells his stories. The best of the Oom Schank Laurens stories are those in which the divide between the races is most clearly highlighted, explored, challenged even. Here are a few of my favorites:

- "Sold Down the River"
- "Unto Dust"
- "Funeral Earth"
- "Makapan's Cave"

Monday, 12 November 2007

Travel: Copenhagen

Elaine and I are finally putting up our photos from our recent trip to Copenhagen, so I thought I'd take a minute to write a little bit about it. You can see our photos from Copenhagen and a bunch of new panoramas in our space on Flickr.

We stayed in Copenhagen for about a week. Our hotel was a very modest place called the Cab Inn Hotel, which was relatively inexpensive, but fit the bill well enough. On our first day (a Sunday), many of the museums were open, so we ventured out and saw the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which has a great collection of sculpture. After that, we visited the ruins under Christiansborg Palace. We also visited the Museum of Erotica, which was reasonably entertaining. We finished up the day with a tour and a 3D IMAX movie at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium.

On the second day, we went to Den Hirschsprungske Samling, a small museum of Danish art from the 19th century. We also did a fair amount of shopping, including a visit to my favorite knife shop (Henkels).

On the third day, we went to the Carlsberg Brewery in the morning, and then met up with my Aunt Evalin and cousin Lauren. We went on a canal tour together in the afternoon, and then walked up to the Rund Tarne, where I managed to shoot a pretty ambitious panorama.

On the fourth day, we went to the Cathedral and Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. While we were at the cathedral, we were delighted to witness a crew carefully hauling a coffin out of a crypt for restoration, which was a fitting Halloween occurrence. While we were at the Viking Ship Museum, we got to dress up as Vikings and pose on a Viking ship, which was even better. We finished up the night by attending a live Jazz performance.

On the fifth day, we went to the Lousiana Art museum, the highlights of which were the Lucian Freud exhibit and the Islamic book illustrations. We then went to "Hamlet's Castle" in Helsingore. We finished up the day with a tour of Helsingborg, Sweden, where we had a nice dinner (fondue, yes it's Swiss, but it was good).

On the sixth and last full day, we met at Lauren's favorite bakery and sampled the local pastries. After that, we took the bus to the Assistens Kirkegaard, a large cemetary in Copenhagen. We saw Niels Bohr's grave as well as Hans Christian Andersen's grave, and took a number of photos of the scenery and statuary there. Before and after, we did a bit of shopping here and there, as Christmas is coming up. We had a final meal as a full group, and then said our goodbyes to Aunt Evalin and Lauren over coffee and very nice seasonal beer.