BOOK BITES | CA Fletcher, Joe Hill, Saidiya Hartman

08 December 2019 - 00:00 By sunday times books
'A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World', 'Full Throttle', 'Wayward Lives'.
'A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World', 'Full Throttle', 'Wayward Lives'.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times (08/12/2019)

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World *****
CA Fletcher, Little Brown, R305

If you love dogs, adventure and post-apocalyptic fiction, this one is for you. A Handmaid's Tale-ian infertility has wiped out most of humanity, and Griz and his family are among the last humans on earth. They live on a remote island with their dogs and occasionally visit a nearby island to scavenge for things they can't make or get from the land, like books. One day, a stranger appears and steals Griz's dog. Without thinking, Griz jumps in a boat and chases the stranger across the ocean to the big unknown to get his dog back. This imaginative novel is a love letter to the things that make us human: stories and loving our pets. Anna Stroud @annawriter_

Full Throttle ****
Joe Hill, Orion, R325

Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and with this, his latest short-story collection, he shows that he is developing into being a force in the horror genre and could one day be as good as his dad, maybe even better. Like his father, he mixes the mundane and the supernatural and melds them into sinister, phantasmagorical stories. Included in the collection are two shorts that they've written together - Full Throttle and In the Long Grass. Where King is gung-ho, Hill is a bit more restrained and his stories are also more diverse. In Faun, there is a door to a magical world in which Trump-like men hunt mythical creatures. In Mums, a boy plants seeds to grow several versions of his deceased mom, and in the poignant Late Returns, a bookmobile librarian hands novels to sad ghosts. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Wayward Lives: Beautiful Experiments ***
Saidiya Hartman, Serpent's Tail, R450

Wayward Lives is a beautifully crafted speculative account of "ordinary black women" in the early 20th century. Using court records, photographs and case notes, Saidiya Hartman builds a narrative around unknown women who contributed to a movement of change. Using pictures as a cornerstone of the storyline, individual tales have been woven into deeply powerful stories. Part fact, part imagination, Wayward Lives weaves together images of courage, resistance and love within the confines of socially constrictive circumstances. Ultimately the book demonstrates how these women could have or perhaps did play an integral role in defying boundaries, offering an alternative to history. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt