Rod MacKenzie

‘Get the f**k over here!’ Baltimore mom teaches respect

My ‘instinctive’ response Whammo! I loved it as this Baltimore mother gave her delinquent son a few snotklaps to teach him respect. Basic manners. Ja, bliksem him, the little bugger. He and his homies were stomping on and trashing them cars a few minutes ago, I betcha. I chortled as her tall, skinny son in…

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If Rhodes goes, Jesus Christ must go

Here’s an inconsequential bit of South African literary history. The late poet Professor Stephen Watson used to have me over to his little house on Rouwkoop Road in Rondebosch just across the road from the railway line. This was in the mid-Eighties. With the occasional roar of a passing train in the background we often…

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Heroes all: EFF and the honourable Julius Malema

This is how social media images of a country inform one’s perceptions, and then stick like glue in this instant-info “Gutenberg Galaxy” of ours. You scroll through Google News, Facebook and Twitter, and powerful impressions of countries impinge on your subconscious without you being able to question them. Then you “form” an unmediated and indelible…

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‘The Life of I': Narcissism and (of course) you

“Paranoia is the self-cure for insignificance … the paranoiac is at the centre of a world which has no centre … to be hated makes him feel real: he has made his presence felt. To be unforgiveable is to be unforgettable.” (Emphases mine.) Australian social philosopher Anne Manne shrewdly begins The Life of I: the…

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My father told me…

  My father came and told me of a place he went to as a child. It was a tunnel sweet with weeds and a rushing, voiceless wind. He said he wished he could take me there, sometime.   My father came and told me of places he went to as a youth. They were…

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Sony cashing in on Kim Jong-un

This is a movie producer’s wildest dream. Make it look like you pissed off one of the most popular “love-to-hate” dictators in the world because you did a comic movie about having him assassinated by two United States late night talk show clowns. Have it leaked that his country, North Korea, hacked into the Sony…

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Why ‘freedom’ sells

Having lived in China for seven years I have my own kind of sorrow, mixed with the tenderness of memory when I see a small Christian community deep inside China harassed for their faith. The leader, pastor Zhang, was imprisoned for 12 years and his family was in danger of losing their lives before making…

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Trying to describe South Africa without ‘overkill’

The novel I am writing has its opening scene in Cape Town on the day Mandela was released from prison. This manuscript is my project for the masters degree in creative writing programme at Auckland University in New Zealand. My protagonist, Ruth, is a young South African, and Chinese in appearance. She does not know, among…

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Accusation and failure: The JM Coetzee – Paul Auster correspondence

In the correspondence between the writers JM Coetzee and Paul Auster in Here and Now (Letters: 2008-2011) we encounter a Coetzee largely unfamiliar to readers. Coetzee converses, even chats, in letters with another writer arguably of the same stature (certainly in Europe) in a manner sometimes bordering on the confessional. Coetzee is famous for his…

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Queers and men with blunt instruments

So I read the very short “Queer” by Courtney Bassett and was drawn to the “idea” of it, best expressed — I thought — through prim lips:   People tell me how lucky I am It was not forty years ago I was being declared Mentally unfit Never mind the lobotomy I would rather have…

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