The name of the book comes from John Lennon’s song.


The main girl loves Debussey.


Cloud atlas is mentioned inside number9dream. It’s also the name of a piece of music by Yoko Ono’s first husband. Read the Paris Review here. Possibly we can guess that Mitchell feels a kinship to Lennon, marrying into a new culture.

How could Tom Hanks be placed inside Cloud Atlas. How very awful. But they did choose a song from an album called HurryUp, We’re Dreaming.


Is hot and messy in Cape Town summers. The traffic is jammed and wind is hard and the setting is unbearably beautiful, in so many ways. Outside, the yelp and snarl of a Sea Point street and the sea is inked blue, far out and quiet.

I like what the neighbours are cooking. Last night was roast chicken. Tonight I think they might be having crumbed pork chops, fried in shallow oil. I eat a giant chocolate brownie, drink rooibos tea drawn from a light blue teapot. I am slightly sunburnt and there is still salt on my skin.

Food Memoirs


Watched Heartburn (1986) last night for research. Written by Nora Ephron (who wrote the recipe-memoir-book, as well as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle), directed by Mike Nichols, has Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson in, Carly Simon did the score, Kevin Spacey is on screen for three minutes, Jeff Bridges has a bit part.

The best part is that it is so 80s i felt like I was six years old, watching “the adults”. The clothes are fan-fn-tastic (esp the wedding scenes), with really good lines and fabric textures that I haven’t seen in years. NY is a mess. The recipes are hilarious: pork chops and mustard cream, key lime pie, clams in white wine (which is probably clams vignolle). Tres 80s.

Was also watching it to see the detail depth of the memoir: ‘the breakup of Ephron’s marriage to Carl “All the President’s Men” Bernstein.’


I love timing in movies: gentle pauses. I consider it the real stuff that happens when you are living in the day of the world. Watch a recent movie and see if you can count to two inbtw a scene change or a cut. Mostly you can’t.


Having said that actually - have you seen The Beginners. What a fantastic script. And the same director. Also watched Moonrise Kingdom (albeit on the plane). Am a huge anti-fan of anything cool or contrived, but I do like me a bit of Wes Anderson. Which is about as cool and contrived as you can get. And yes, it is that. The space in this movie is indulgent and unnecessary even though the art direction is great.


Incidentally,recently, one day in Mexico, when the sun had become too much and cable beckoned, I watched Postcards from the Edge. That’s Meryl Streep doing Carrie Fisher, w a soundtrack by Carly. Also a Mike Nichols flick. If I could change the title of this post I suppose it would be called Mike Nichols.

Right. Take it away, Carly.

October’s Amalgamation

Er, so I am going to Mexico in 48 hours. Yes. That’s five countries in one year (See below >) and … I haven’t had to write about any of them, i.e. self-subsidised travel. Which is great because it leaves my brain free for making up stuff. And make up I have. It’s all starting to work out, this extra writing time. Hopefully next year is even better in that regard. My part-time 3 day a week job ends on 1 December and then off to Cape Town (god, I love that place, if I was a saner person I could live there, but, um, yeah, that mountain).

A holiday there and then …. freelance-freelance again, as opposed to freelance-contract. And a small issue of home space which needs to be resolved. I will be away for two weeks. In the meantime, while I am in Mexico (exclamation mark!) here is a collection of all the things I’ve liked and fb-spammed-friends w and my tweets + links.

Me on the list of 5 SA Books That Should Have Won Literary Awards. Snyckers writes: “Things I Thought I Knew by Kathryn White is a slim and elegant novel, more beautifully written than anything else to come out of South Africa this year. About a young woman burdened with second sight, it is by turns wonderfully romantic, and stomach-heavingly tragic but always intensely vivid. This book deserves to leave a deep imprint in our literary soil. It deserves to be studied at tertiary level because only the very closest reading can do justice to its multi-textured denseness.” Thank u :)

Cary Tennis from Salon writes advice. A fantastic piece on time and writing - i think most writers know this? While you’re there - how to get over heartache and stop fucking around w the same person and being trapped inside w feelings about to come out. These are my sum-ups. This last one? Remember, remember, love. Remember love.

The song I have on replay

This month

I danced, went camping, stood up for myself, drank a fantastic pinot noir, started planning a new future (still need some major voodoo to get this organised), jumped higher than ever before (horseriding), broke up with my horse, broke up my job, celebrated engagements and babies (neither mine) and started packing for a family holiday on the Mayan Riveria.

Bragging about travel here: South of France, Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Thailand, Yucatan. Nice :) All warm. All sea. Luck? At one stage of my life I had to spend a lot ( a lot) of time lying down and in hospitals. So now I know something: that the life you lead is your choice. Move w grace, it’s a much better idea.

Okay, so this is lazy amalgamation only includes stuff from the last week, but there is a storm outside and i want to go outside and be in it.


Ruin P*rn

Broken things. Things that need fixing. Cities, peoples, hearts, memories.


There’s a whole new series going round the weblands. Vacated video stores, leftover nuclear reactors, washing machines with no homes. Churches and roads and entire cities in Japan (I’d find you all the links for the towns vacated after the nuclear fall-outs but I am off for sundowners in 10 minutes and it;s 32 degrees outside ….)

I used to have a poetry blog called iWander (bless) because that’s what I do. Wander/Wonder around vacancies, trying to find the thing, that thing.

Part of the interest in this is the current “re-urbanisation” of places. I.e. gentrification. You know, the place where “no-one” used to go anymore. I am obsessed with palimpsests, ghosts, hauntings, the eternal instant ….

Happy 32 degrees y’all, I’m off :)

Le Cirque: 2008

We were in France, Patsy and I, and a circus truck drove through the small town. We were shoe shopping. I ran into the still heat of lunchtime. Later, the sun set turgid and still over yellow hayfields. We walked through the town, queued with small children alongside giant thistles. There was a llama. And some horses. It was the first time my mother took me to the circus. I was 28 years old.

Actually, it was really lovely and funny. But the photo doesn’t suit that, does it. For this 6 week meander, I decided to take a disposable camera. The photos are really interesting - most of them awkward, dusty. This is my fav.

A Food Diary. With sex.

So out of the four manuscripts I’ve been working on, The Food Diary has come out as the winner for Next Book :)

Basically, what happened is this: The Mess

A friend Jono and I ran a pop up restaurant, before all that popping up started happening all over the world. The experience was intense, but so was the question: what can I (italics) cook? I have good taste - I mean that in the sensory sense - but I was never interested in waiting for the oven to get to the right temperature, or how much of what when how. The result was a 50/50 batting rate. Despite knowing exactly what is in a dish if i taste it (and what could be added/taken out etc) my food was 50% disaster and 50% success.

My mother Patsy is a cook in the Caribbean. My father did a cordon bleu course for fun. My parents can COOK. How come I never learnt? Definitely laziness, some capable and loving boyfriends, and an absolute love for eating out.

So, I started a Food Diary. And decided to add my love life in at the same time. The recipes are related to the emotion of that day. Some work out wonderfully - pork belly slow cooked with mustard and sage - and some don’t - chicken pie with tarragon cream and … forgetting to take the meat off the thigh bones.

Now that it’s going to be fictionalised I’ve taken out some of the real stuff. And a lot of the stuff that doesn’t work towards any narrative excitement. Life and love being that strange thing that has a very, very long narrative arc ;)

The Mess site is an amalgamation of the two of us - the more recent stuff is Jono as I was in the land of final edits for my book Things.

Leaving for the East in 24 hours time.

Over the last two months I have worked night and day on money-work. And probably only written about 2000 words in any of my manuscripts. Joburg winters are unbearably dry. Central heating doesn’t exist because it’s only -2 for one week. And the midday high is between 12 and 20. So you do thaw. But the cold and the combined joys of working all the time propelled me into adventure mode. That, and my visual well is empty. After three full length manuscripts and countless countless half finished MSs, it seems I may have used a lot of the pictures that reside in my head.

So, about 3 weeks ago (less even I think) I booked a ticket to Thailand, via Hong Kong. 5 days in Hong Kong. 1.5 days in Bangkok. 1 day across Thailand on a train. and 7 days on the beach. I think I should be ably restored :)

Working Hard. Still.

This is for another script I’m working on.



Those Beatles. You can see that they’re cool, even tho they are all tied up in their suits, they have an extra twinkle happening. Have u read Outliers? Gladwell and his 10 000 hours theory. The Beatles played every day, for 8 hours, in Hamburg when they first started out. Hence how tight they are.

Here is a random comment from YouTube

God, the Beatles look like FUCKING GIRLS compaired to the short haired American males in the audience!!! Everyone remembers Ed Sullivan introducing the Beatles to America and so do I. My dad and all the male neighbours had a meeting on our front lawn. My dad asked “Did you see the Beatles?” Yeah, they all look like Girls. Well, my dad said, I ain’t letting my sons listen to that Shit!!! My dad said “My brother was in England during WWII and he said the British LOVE dressing up like women! 1964”

For my ad, I wanted to make 10 year old kids breaking the stage - aka the Nirvana clip, but it’s probably more likely that we’ll go the parody route. Would rather have kids breaking stuff tho. And moshing. Violently.

Mosh: verb [ intrans. ]
dance to rock music in a violent manner involving jumping up and down and deliberately colliding with other dancers.

Working Hard

Advertising is a mixed job, but one of the benefits is that you see a lot of references. For everything. Which feed your brain.

This is a set for a script I am putting together. The script isn’t done yet, but these are my refs.


LED SNOWBOARDER (Snowboarding)


Guy Todd in Tienstin

My mom mailed me to let me know that my granddad - Guy Todd - wasn’t born in Hong Kong, but in Tienstin, in the diplomatic area, as the city wasn’t open to foreigners.

If you wiki that, the reference that comes up as the Second Opium War. Acc to my uncles my poor great-granny died of opium addiction. They’ve also said that the family imported tea and opium, and that the opium went under the boards of the ship. So that all makes sense, doesn’t it.

The city is now called Tianjin.

The British concession, in which the trade centres, was situated on the right bank of the river Haihe below the native city, occupying some 200 acres. It was held on a lease in perpetuity granted by the Chinese government to the British Crown, which sublet plots to private owners. The seat of government was the stately Gordon Hall, situated on Victoria Road (now Jiefang Lu).”

This is Gordon Hall, in 1907. Pretty awesome picture, but frightfully English.

Last night I dreamt of funeral pyres, ghosts piled like Jenga. If you pulled one ghost - they were solid - the pyre collapsed.

It’s in there.

I am obsessed with trees. It’s my religion really. Here, really is where I feel like I can see me. When I was little my mom cut my hair into one of those straight fringe, straight bob cuts, Chinese-esque. My grandfather was born in Tientsin*. Mostly he was a watercolourist. My favourite paintings of his are the junks. My favourite painting is a Karoo oil he did after I was born.

Hello Katie. Pleased to meet you.

Making my way through four different manuscripts at the moment, seeing which one will resound - like echo really, when i hit my keyboard which one talks back at me? The story I like the most is sitting inside my veins at the moment, I can’t seem to get it out. Strangely, I want to paint it more than write it. Like I have to make up a whole world, so I can actually see it as I build it - inside my head, a network of streets that grows… But I can’t seem to write it yet.

*Initially I had this as Hong Kong. Read Guy Todd in Tientsin.

Greyton, Western Cape.

Have been out of the city for most weekends over the last month or so. Went to Greyton w Lan to visit her sister and brother-in-law Heike (Davies) & Sam (Allerton) and their awesome kids. Art everywhere, obviously.

The town is tiny, so small and sweet and lovely there are moments when it feels Disneyfied. But it really isn’t. Have i ever mentioned I am obsessed w roses? Ye olde 18th blooms, that stink. The little town has that feel - a bit wonton beneath her exterior.

And possibly haunted.

Pray, tell me, how does an iPhone get a dent in the picture.

Here’s a piece from Heike’s latest exhibition.

And a link w more of her work. Stayed in a room w other gold pieces - v powerful, quite eerie.

Chick Lit

I’ve moved into a new space. There’s less light - the last place was like an airy ocean liner, and I think my moods were affected in that way too. Open, blustery, quite bright, unmitigated. Writing. Not much. Nowhere to write really. When I packed up the space, I realised I hadn’t hung the paintings. Bright, higher than usual walls. Empty. And when I left, emptied.

My new space. Still parquet floors. My balcony is wrapped up in palm trees. A refracted light, triangles of shade. Is quite lovely. On the other side of the apartment I have a carpeted room. A carpet. It has been so long. I lay on it the other night. Let my back click out. Flat. I think a quiet room is better for writing. Sounds absorbed.

What I am reading. The Mandarins. Have just finished The Forgotten Waltz, my first Anne Enright read. I had expected more lyricism, that ye old Irish lilt that I do love so. But she is clear, and sharp. It is a fantastic read, but there is a veneer that you just can’t crack through. That’s fine, it’s a first person narrative and is in line with the character. On Kindle, it’s like I am a teenage reader again. Devouring books. And also, without the expectations of what marketing has decided, that is, how the physicality of the book will affect my read. I am sure some PhD lit person is currently bashing out their “the text returns to text through the Kindle” thesis. Blah blah, hope they have fun. I like that academics do what they do, but can’t imagine that they don’t actually deep-down down-down want to be there in the writing, as themselves.

So The Forgotten Waltz = chick lit (“chick lit”), because it is about a lady who has an affair, and gets her man. And the kid. The other chick lit is The Mandarins. My first Simone book. I do not like Satre. I have only ever wondered about her. I do not like the thought of what she had to go through. I balk at the idea of the second sex, I don’t like that she did always come second to him (even at university, he took place one and she was place two in their philosophy degree). I don’t like that she justified her femaleness (her philosophy) through her love for him. Vice Versa: her love for him through her philosophy. The Mandarins. So far, a pale red (faded to pink) dusty colour. Spine: gold lettering. Cover: nothing. Dust jacket: none. The paper is glorious. Thin, but heavy. Slight gloss. Text aligned to edges. Kerning precise. Each letter looks like it has been embedded in the paper, not printed on. Silky, with dents. My copy, thanks Mum, is 1957, Second print. No doubt, my mind will change about her as I read.

And then, I have Bridget Jones waiting. I will read her at the same time. I think I have only read her once. And I was a teenager. I do remember being horrified. Alas, it is time to laugh …;)

Simone Thinking. Look at the edge of her eyes - I reckon she had an amazing laugh.

Wet Friday

I watched Melancholia yesterday. I don’t usually like Lars von Trier, but this movie is interesting in that it’s like a “the end is coming” movie with a planet and an approaching impact, but the overall tone is about character, and also about depression.

The main character - an unusually good Kirsten Dunst - is similar in ways to Lily, the main character in my book. Lily knows things, as does Justine in the movie. I wonder if there are people out there who can tra-la-la through life when they know. It’s like, all the religion in the world doesn’t change the reality of what’s in front of you.

What does Lily know? What does Justine know? It’s also what dearcoquette knows. It’s okay to embrace it, but it really is depressing, and so you have to embrace love instead.

If you watch Melancholia, it’s the 678 conversation between Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourgh (who wears great clothes).

In other news, am definitely going to start a book with a wedding. The dramatic tension is fantastic, especially such a strange wedding, in such a big house. On more thing - I am a huge fan of staged settings. I think of the spaces in my text as flat, the depth comes the internal struggle / journey that the characters go on. I like to cut them, edit the next one in as the curtain has gone down and come up again. Melancholia has one house, you hardly ever leave. I love it when a house or a country or a thing is cast as a character. My next novel has a whole (!) farm. If I cast the farm as a “person”, then - did you know - the farm can become antagonistic or supportive, it can be reactive, do things, stop things, etc.

Candyfloss fingertips.

The movie never actually goes to this picture place. U assume that with the inversion of the energies (approaching planet) that powers shall be delivered, but alas alas …

Horrific intro and ridiculous end, but …. well, personally, it made me happy that I have already written the book that I have just written, that I have had a character that knows things, and survives, happily, for it, moving past melancholia/nihilism.

The Frown, Short Straw & Spoek

Good Day.

South Africans + their music videos. Blah blah blah Die Antwoord. Copyright infrigement Jane Alexander. Filmed by Roger Ballan. Blah blah blah. Taking digs at other South Africans in their subtext and text. Theory of sampling. Blah blah blah.

Possibly my favourite - even prefer this to the original song:

Shot by Pieter Hugo, the guy who actually took the hyena photos. By this I mean - art is about making, it’s not about talking or knowing, it’s only when it is made that it becomes art. That’s what I think. Art is about appropriation. But not stealing. This music video is high, it’s made of art.

They are happy boys.

This is THE FROWN. This is a good music video. I’ve added another in for the sheer loveliness of voice: this is a good song:

OK Fine. I’m not done.

All work is referential. Even The Bible. Duh. But credit should be given. So, yes Jane Alexander is entitled (good choice of word hey) to stand up for her work - but mostly because the video is shot w Ballen, so it makes her look complicit in the communication.

In “Things I Thought I Knew” I used

i like my body when it is with your

body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more. ($50 to ee)

, God & Crow, The Lily Whispers I wait and appropriated The Second Coming (obvs, I know), Romeo and Juliet, and a song from Crowded House (You’re not the girl you think you are. No, No). I paid over R800 for four lines.

Oh come on. Sing it.

Those are not your shoes under the bed.

Why do the lines not cost money online?

Ryan: a goose I’d like to gander

Yes, yes. It’s all rather obvious, but:

I have been watching rom coms for ONE whole entire year now (for research obviously). My next book - which I hope will be light, funny and filled with good endings - is called The Manbattical*. (There are two other manuscripts that I am working on, but I think that The Manbattical is most likely to be done and dust-jacket-ed first.)

My aim? To take a break from deep love stories, not kill anyone, and take a break from literary fiction. Did I say take a break? I did. I don’t give a toss for genre debates so this is what I want to write and I shall write it.

In all my , ahem, research, I have discovered that Mr Gosling is very good at his job. I can’t use him as my protagonist - this is more of a High Fidelity moment than anything - but as far as these things go, he is a man man man -

He sings.


He cares for pregnant women.

He is a feminist.

He has overcome drugs.


he loves a disabled person.

I think that’s enough for today.

PS. There’s lots more, but I have to go back to work now.

Oh, the places you’ll go

A big huge dragon fire welcome to 2012 :)

Here’s Dr Seuss and Oh The Places You’ll Go > “Congratulations, today is your day” ! by Burning Man people. How awesome? Very.

Dr Seuss knows something.

And, 30 Things To STOP doing to yourself. Something for everyone here.

Happy New Year peeps, it’s going to be awesome, in the old sense of the word. Awe. May there be lots of some.