Monday, November 26, 2012

More on Bryce Courtenay

When San Francisco-based writer Jules Older read the Sydney Morning Herald  piece about Bryce Courtenay on this blog earlier today he felt compelled to send me the following piece which he wrote and published online on October 14, 2010.

Power and Awe

As I re-read The Power of One, I found myself hoping against hope that there was an actual crime committed within its 629 pages. 

Not because I was getting bored — never! Not because I longed for more action — impossible! No, my hope was based on the certainty that this book would be included in the Older Website-to-be, whether it had a crime or not. It’s that good.

Fortunately, I found my crime, a cruel murder which takes place offstage but which is central to the plot. Great. I could post it in good conscience…though I would have cheerfully posted it in bad.

This is some book. It manages to combine idealism and realism, heroism and revenge. In the world of boxing — and boxing is at the core of The Power of One, that’s one powerful punch-combination. 

Just how good is The Power of One? Here's how Effin put it: “If somebody told me I'd love a novel about not just boxing, but South African boxing, a book in which almost all of the main characters are male, I'd have said they were crazy. But this is indeed a book I love.”

The Power of One is the story of Peekay, a country boy who is only five when the book begins. We watch him grow smart, grow strong, grow experienced and grow up. 
Right from the start, he has terrible experiences, beginning with savage torment at a boarding school where he is not only the youngest and smallest boy, but is one of hated English, not an Afrikaner. His life takes him into sordid prisons, deathtrap mines, posh private schools, and often into danger.

Let me be clear; I love this book. It was every bit as good in 2009, when I re-read it, as it was in 1990 when I read it for the first time. I love the story, the action, the morality, the growth, the revenge.
And if that weren't enough, when I logged on, I discovered more reasons for love. 

This is Courtenay’s first book. He wrote it at age 55. He is now the most popular author in Australia. 

And (and it’s a mighty big and), growing up in South Africa, Bryce Courtenay pretty much lived the life of his hero — and mine — Peekay. 

— jules

And for the record, that NovelCrimes website never materialized, morphing instead into a Twitter tweets, NovelCrimes.

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