Issuing us his memories, first through a series of letters and later by essay; Jolyon Nuttall reintroduces his readers to the art of patient reading.
Not quite postmodern in nature, Nuttall’s disjointed narrative forces the reader to dig for meaning beneath the covers.
To find, within the turmoil, a sense of belonging. His story is cosy and familiar, dangerously beautiful and eloquently writ.
The form of the book is disjointed and careless. There is something charming about the personal touches.
The letters are very carefully selected. In this way, Nuttall is able to provide us with a distinct vintage love and classic style.
His writing also takes on a uniquely South African perspective as he battles casual racism from his parent’s disapproval of his relationship to the fear that bringing an Asian girl home to Durban could land him in jail.
Nuttall also describes times where he witnessed racism or was a victim of not conforming to the racist standards set by the apartheid regime.
For example, he details a scene when giving a lift home to Chief Luthuli, he finds himself handed a court summons for being in a “non-white” area without approval.
His experiences as a white journalist making his way through these restrictions is illuminating and heartbreaking.
In the first part, young Nuttall, re-explores his own memories as a hopeful and bright journalist in New York, juxtaposed with his dismal view of South Africa as a “young, white liberal,” and the complex desire to return home despite it all.
He does all of this through a collection of brilliant letters.
The essay focuses on his return from New York, the heart-wrenching break he has with his Japanese lover Misa and the finding of new love in Pietermaritzburg.
He also details his shift from a young, aspiring journalist into the world of newspaper management.
Nuttall is a playful and colourful writer who, at one stage, ends off a letter to his parents with “For my birthday, please send me a canister of air from the Drakensburg.”
In another letter, he describes his encounter with the pet cat of his boss, claiming that, “It is a matter of class consciousness, of course,” that they could not trust each other.
His story is cosy yet vibrant, perfect for any reader who is willing to get lost in a mesmerising world of forbidden politics and hasty friendships.