A Veil of Footsteps (Memoir of a Nomadic Fictional Character) | General Fiction
Human & Rousseau
The subtitle alerts the reader that although this book is offered as a memoir, the borders between fact and fiction, between reality and imagination, will be blurred. The main character and narrator, the nomad Breyten Wordfool, takes the reader on a journey, on many journeys, through his own history and the places where he lives and works and regularly visits: Paris, Spain, Gorée (Senegal), Cape Town, New York, Vietnam: This should be kept in mind as I write Breyten Wordfool’s black book of impressions. One must not let go of the memories; maggots and grubs are always needed to transform that which has been lived.
Memories and impressions of real events – being arrested in 1975 at Johannesburg airport for alleged terrorist activities, witnessing the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001 – are alternated by surrealistic fantasies, dreamlike sequences, philosophical thoughts, fictions. He reports angrily, lyrically, humorously, daringly on our troubled times.
Of Africa he says: “. . . impossible to rationally get hold of in all its complexity, horror, madness and beauty. No understanding except through invention.” And this is Breyten Breytenbach’s achievement, that he can use his inventive powers and imagination to illuminate life in all its horror and beauty. To force us to observe equally with indignation and wonder.