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"