Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Book Thief -and globbed-together eyelashes

There are fewer novels than I can count on my one hand that have made me cry. Even in movies, the floodgates aren't let open easily. It's not that I'm cold hearted or emotionally detached -quite the opposite. It's just that I feel like few authors exist who write in a way that can really move readers, who can pull out their souls a little. 

I want to tell you a story. 

The day of my matric Greek Paper 2 exam I had a late writing slot, and so I found myself with too much time on my hands for the little revision I had set aside to do. I had been reading The Book Thief for the last two weeks as a reprieve from the monotony of studying, and that morning I had only about 40 pages left. I decided I was going to finish The Book Thief before my exam.

I must be honest with you all here, I had seen the movie before I began the book. 
I usually am quite stringent about reading the book of anything first. However, The Book Thief was out in cinemas and I knew the novel was too long to read before the movie left the big screen; So I went. I did cry. But, after I was game to read the novel still. When I started the book I realized just how wonderful the casting was for the movie. Were Hans, Rosa and Rudy not absolutely perfect? None in particular, but all?

Mark Zusak, oh you torturous, torturous bastard. Excuse me, but really. He let us know from the beginning and then continuously throughout the novel that Rudy (Oh Rudy...) and the Hubermanns were going to die. He also then squeezed lemon on our wounds by moulding together a story of such heart, such impact, that when he delivered the final blow, well, how could I not sob?

The love story between Rudy and Lizelle, I shiver to think about it. They were only children when they first met, but as they grew up into young teenagers through the novel, and the war, my poor heart could barely take it. Also, Mark Zusak peppered the novel with little lines and collections of lines that told you from the start. 

This story is going to break your heart.

Lines like this;

“How about a kiss, Saumensch?"

He stood waist-deep in the water for a few moments longer before climbing out and handing her the book. In truth, I think he was afraid. Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief's kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.” 


“The tears grappled with her face. 
Rudy, please, wake up, Goddamn it, wake up, I love you. Come on, Rudy, come on, Jesse Owens, don't you know I love you, wake up, wake up, wake up.."

There are few things I find more painful than authentic love never realized until it is too late. 

The death of Hans Hubermann, and even Rosa Hubermann, slung a hefty blow. Hans Hubermann, what a profound soul he was. What a character... The man with an accordion heart. 

The friendship between Max Vandenburg  and Lizelle was also something that clung to me like glue. Something that was left out of the movie which I so enjoyed in the novel was the painted book Max made for Lizelle over the pages of Mein Kampf, The Standover Man. His best standover man he'd ever known was not a man at all... Love that. Such kindness, such trust and small, but of-the-heart moments and gestures. I was glad to find one person at the end of the novel not dead. One less wound I had to hold.

But, it was the death of the boy with hair the colour of lemons that truly cracked my heart. Even now, I have a very hard time just thinking about Rudy, oh dear dear Rudy. Death called Rudy's passing a robbery. It was a slaughter of my heart, too. 

So, before my Greek exam I read the last pages of The Book Thief, and I cried and heaved and howled like I hadn't in a very long time. My whole chest hurt and my throat closed up. Was it possible for tears to forever to stain my cheeks like that of a cheetah's black marks?

I had about an hour to let all the redness and puffiness go down before I had to arrive at school. However, as I climbed into the car, walked up to the exam hall and put down my bag, The Book Thief still haunted me. One of my good friends -a girl who had the same attachment to Rudy- noticed my fragility and asked me what was wrong. I told her, and she answered, "Oh is that why your eyelashes are all stuck together! Oh Anth..." My tears had globbed together my eyelashes into a dark, star-like garnishing for my eyes. 

They were a reminder to me that day as I came home from the exam. Even though I felt afflicted by the tragedy within the novel, The Book Thief had given me a gift. It showed me just how beautiful human beings can be, how beautiful human beings are

So thank you Mark Zusak. And damn you.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Creative writing piece: I played it safe

I played it safe and never told you that I wanted you to be mine. I wanted an Adonis, and you were him. I played it safe and never told you that I thought you were hotter than boiling caramel, that I swooned for your gelled Leonardo DiCaprio hair, that I swam in your eyes, your Mediterranean eyes. 

I love your mind. I love that you think and can think, channelling mind into manifestation. Perhaps you are bound by thought a little too much. Yet, the pulsing heat beneath your limbs plays a fitting balancing act with your musings. I love that though physique is not your centre, you do not ignore the physical in focus of mind games. I love that you love good food.

When you smile I see you peel back a layer of hardness and leave behind the iron man. It’s a moment I rather treasure. I wanted someone passionate and you were him -you understand your passion. I adore you for your boisterousness, your oh so male attitude, because then I can banter back and tell you that you’re wrong! I love that you have strong opinions. You were my Greek God, and oh the luck of your goddess. I love how you are not afraid to hold her, to declare your adoration for her loveliness. I shiver to think of your presence just a little bit nearer; I dream to feel the light touch of your fingers on my bare arm, magnetizing and unravelling.

But then, I don’t adore you for your playing with my heart, your playing with girls’ hearts. I guess I played it safe because some part of me knew that if I didn’t you would say you were just having a bit of fun, or I’d end up voiceless against your games and plays with younger hearts. You pull at my heart strings, but I hold on tight because I know you are a professional and have a favourite with a name that isn’t mine. And after I realize all that I do not adore, I understand in my deepest of places that my strings don’t suit you sound.

So yes, I played it safe, but you’ll end up in my words, I promise. I wanted a leader, a power of being, and you were him, but you couldn’t see that all of me was obscured behind a veil of who-you-think-she-is, what-you-think-she’s-like. You will end up in my words, and then you will say, “I knew her. She was the most incredible spirit, and I never realized. I played it safe, and boy, I should have had the guts.”


Saturday, January 17, 2015


I am unashamedly, a major Glee fan. Sputter as you will, but I adore the show. Together with being tons of fun, Glee carries powerful messages of love, hope, and positivity as well as believing in your dreams. 

It's a new year, 2015, two years after Back to the future predicted we'd all be flying in hovercrafts and wearing gaudy American-utopian outfits . Regardless, it's January, the time now in which we think of the past and the future. 2014 was a fabulous, and fabulously hard year. As a 2014 matriculant, I can vouch for the second half. Jokes, the first half too. 

I left you all on a cliffhanger in my last post. My matric results did indeed arrive by sms on the 30th December, and there sat 8 distinctions. 8 distinctions, one 79 (being remarked and soon to become my ninth distinction) as well as a humble 75 for Science (my high school nemesis).  I am absolutely over the moon about how well I've done -I have enough congratulations messages to fill a small truck. All in all, matric was a huge success for me.  I can now put a nice big tick (or cross, however you see it) in the box that is high school and shift my sights to new adventures. 

And this is where Glee comes in. Today I was watching episode 12 season 2 of Glee, in which Rachel sings Katy Perry's "Firework". I've been feeling especially weird since I matriculated. This transitional phase has been kind of rough and uncomfortable for me. Being on the cusp of everything has made me feel very anxious about the future, and not just university but THE FUTURE in general. And then I watched "Firework" on Glee today. 

The truth is that the future and all that is to come is so scary. It's okay that it is. Let's just all put our hands up and admit it. I am scared. Are you scared? That's all good. Scared? Great. Deep breaths all around. In. Fill those lungs. I am scared. We are scared. Out. 

Our lives from here on out are going to be remarkable. We are remarkable. 

The reason we feel scared is that we don't want to muck up everything; We don't want all this possibility that comes with a new year and new venture in our lives to fade and disappear. But, what Glee spoke to me today about was, Really Anthea, you can trust yourself because you are a star. We are stars.  

Us young creatures just out of matric feel all this hope and yearning to make our lives great. I can just hear Mr Keating breathing down our necks saying, "Carpe .... Diem. Carpe .. Diem! Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!" My friends, not only can we trust ourselves, but we can be okay when we dream magnificent, big and grand dreams. We are the people set to mould the world, so please, make your life damn inspiring and original! Be as out-there as you can!

I know I am.

I've been offered a place at the University of Cape Town to study a Bachelor of the Arts -and wait, it gets better. I've also been awarded an entrance scholarship for almost half my tuition! It's all so much like this big mountain I'm about to start climbing (good thing I'm a mountain climber, right?). I have from tomorrow two weeks until I jet off on my one way ticket (literally) to Cape Town. It's going to be a new adventure, and I'm feeling as daring as ever. I even cut my hair (a good 15 cm) -and don't laugh at why I included that. Coco Chanel said that a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life. Are you going to dispute Coco Chanel?

There's a spark in me that has lain dormant for quite some time while I survived high school. However, now that's done, I'm going for it -thanks Glee. Magna Cum Laude, international best seller, blogging, performing and being the girl who eats 90% dark chocolate. What's the point if you're doing anything half-assed? I am a writer, and I'm going to be a writer. I want to create awe-inspiring art that transforms our world. I have no interest in making my dreams any smaller -and neither should anyone for that matter. 

Our dreams are so bright, but so are we. We can trust ourselves to be great. Hi 2015.