If I was the Dos Equis Man, I would say: "I don't always talk about Roger Smith on Dead End Follies, but when I do, it's several times a week." It's not always planned, but this time it is. I usually do my last book club entry at the last week of the quarter, but since I reviewed Smith's spellbinding new volume earlier this week, I figured you guys would enjoy a double serving, so you can understand how good he is. DUST DEVILS was my first Smith and it was so good, it earned a place in this summer's book club. The man is that good at what he does. He goes where no man dared going before and quite frankly, where no man wanted to go. Off the deep end that is.
DUST DEVILS is a novel about South Africa, seen through its chaotic political landscape. Racism, violence, gun fights and unspeakable horror are somehow part of the daily life over there. The people are too busy surviving to try and project themselves beyond tomorrow. South Africans don't dream too big, because you could be dead anytime, without an actual valid reason. Hunter S. Thompson once said : "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" and in Smith's world, this could translate as: "When life become a nightmare, the monsters are king."
THREE REASONS TO READ: DUST DEVILS
1) Roger Smith is action oriented. Countless times, I've read people criticize novels as "boring" and saying "nothing really happens", but it's not the case with Smith. Action flows almost better than in a classic Rambo movie and yet, he finds time to draw amazing, flawed and real characters.
2) Inja Mazibuko. Given that he's a classic villain (i.e. not many redeeming traits. In fact, none at all), he's absolutely terrifying. He's the kind of soulless character you nightmare about. I say soulless in a good way, by the way. He has a studied soullessness.
3) Disaster Zondi. It's not as much the character, as how Roger Smith brings him to life. If you've read Dostoevsky before, you'll understand what I mean here by Smith pulled an Ivan Karamazov. He rewards patience and dedication from his reader and that's a telltale sign of a master of the craft.
THREE TOPICS ABOUT: DUST DEVILS
1) Do you think vengeance is the only motive that pushes Dell to pursue Inja Mazibuko? What else do you think sends him into this path of absolute destruction?
2) How do you think the racism ongoing in South Africa influenced the story? Would any of that would have happened if every character would've been from the same ethnic background?
3) Pollsmoor Prison is a recurring figure in Roger Smith's novels. What do you think it's its signification in the author's work and what do you think its its signification for the characters?