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All One Horse Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 22, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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An immensely gifted writer, able to descend effortlessly into the Africa of the poetic unconscious and return with the rhythm and the words, the words in the rhythm that give life. —J.M. Coetzee
Breytenbach’s passionate desire to know and serve the truth, whatever it may be and whomever it may offend, is deeply admirable. —The Washington Post
It is impossible to stop our ears against the excruciating power of what Breytenbach has to say. —Nadine Gordimer
[Return to Paradise] is written with a wild heart and an unrelenting eye, and is fueled by the sort of rage that produces great literature. —The Washington Post
No white South African writer has penetrated as deeply into his own country as Breytenbach—and none has been as successful in the flowering of his art in exile. —Donald Woods
Top Customer Reviews
The texts can be either read as short stories or as prose poems. The title of each text is the last line or the last phrase of the text. Readers familiar with Breytenbach's metaphorical and (to some extent) allegorical universe won't be surprised with the stories, though the phrasings and the arty rhythmical intricacies are at their most consummate and their most enigmatic here.
It is difficult to take the watercolours separately from the texts, because they are obviously meant to be "read" together with the stories. There are echoes between most of the situations that can be found in the narratives and the recurrent motifs that give depth to the watercolours.
Breytenbach is a deliberately and extremely figurative artist. His practice is very different from the general tendency to more and more abstraction.
And yet, the paintings are also fully post-modern. Literally speaking, the watercolours are amazing; we are lost in some kind of labyrinth, where enigmas seem to be impossible to solve. The same motifs keep coming back (pens, brushes, horse-shaped animals) but, instead of providing clear-cut links with either the stories or the similar motifs in other paintings, the recurrent motifs are confusing. In fact, Breytenbach demonstrates superbly the power of illusion: small details can be apprehended separately but can never really make a whole. The search for unity or homogeneity is but a mere illusion: variety and versatility ensure creative as well as political freedom.
Everything is the same ("all one horse"), except when it isn't.