Friday, October 16, 2009

Wilbur Smith, Gold Mine

I feel a little... not dirty, but... I dunno. I simply don't seem to be a reader of action/adventure -- odd for a boy who cut his teeth on science fiction and fantasy growing up. I've been trying my hand at it lately, reading those works centered in Africa (that's my excuse, my justification: literary policing).

Gold Mine is my second Wilbur Smith book. Sigh...

Even after just two -- and this is not surprising (considering both the genre and the fundamentals of basic storytelling) -- I can see the pattern: talented, skilled, and strapping man (my, is he strapping), but somewhat down at the heels, not enjoying the vast privilege of those around him, not fully; put in a seemingly impossible situation, manipulated and given no real choice, but it's make or break; some shrieking harpy of a female attachment; a beautiful other woman to whom he might or could or once was attached; and a lurking, often soft (yet steely) villain.

And all hell breaks loose.

Set in the South African goldmines of the 1960s (and first published in 1970), Gold Mine plays to the stereotypes of the time, albeit not the very worst racist characterizations of the apartheid regime. Give it that. And it's hard to know where the characterizations are "race"-based and where "simply" gender-based. Still, to read of the "bantus" time and again is both annoying and mildly offensive.

There is much in this that is both.

Yes, I will probably read another, at some point, maybe, just to see if the patterns hold. But, oddly, I don't know if I'll really enjoy it. And I have wanted to enjoy these. Really...

No comments: