Friday, September 17, 2010

Eggs to lay, chickens to hatch by Chris van Wyk


"Writing a memoir is a little like travelling into your own past. Unlike science fiction, you can't change your past. But, like science fiction, it does have its own magic" – Chris van Wyk.

I spent 4 days reading Eggs to lay, chickens to hatch - casting off conversations, phone calls and meals. 

This is the story of a young, polite coloured boy in Riverlea set against the backdrop of apartheid.  With the help of Agnes, the van Wyk’s domestic worker; young Chris learns that the world beyond his stoep isn’t just sweets, cents and smokes. Agnes is not a Major Protagonist however, as Chris van Wyk weaves you, the reader, through the colourful life he has before him and Agnes begins to impact the reader and young Chris with the little things from conversations between them to the sequence of Agnes teaching Chris how to count in Zulu.

I would catch myself in a coffee shop laughing hysterically or late at night, the house asleep, giggling & snorting at the people Chris describes for you.  I laughed while I kept the lump in my throat at a distance.

The last couple of books that expanded my world were Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone) and Charles Dickens (A tale of two Cities) - This is on the list with them.  It’s simple, funny, provoking, thoughtful, subtle and just plain wonderful.  I felt a sense of accomplishment after each chapter feeling like it was one soft, warm biscuit delicious but sad when finished.  I could picture Chris telling me the story and how I felt so at home in a time that was WAY beyond my childhood or even near.


- Review by Kelly Ansara

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