Booktown under a red sky

Booktown under a red sky

Booktown Richmond is the literary jewel of the Karoo. The JM Coetzee and Athol Fugard Festival takes place there this week. I was meant to be a participant, but got a chance to speak at a conference in Vienna.

I’ve never been to Vienna or Richmond, and the desire to see those wide starry Karoo skies is compelling, but… Vienna. Home of Mozart. Setting for Before Sunrise. There was no question of accepting. My visa will come through in time, so I had to decline.

This is my way of contributing in some way: a painting of the Richmond landscape featuring the Dutch Reformed Church, complete with quotes from the two writers celebrated by the festival.

For various reasons, some of the quotes from JM Coetzee are particularly meaningful to me at this particular time:

“A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us.”

“The secret of happiness is not doing what we like but in liking what we do.”

“When all else fails, philosophize.”

And this:

“Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love. The gaze of love is not deluded. It sees what is best in the beloved even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.”