If 2020 was a book review…
One of the highlights of my year was getting to read this book, Starlite Memories by Dov Fedler.
In the spirit of transparency, I need to reveal that Dov is my father-in-law and that I could be perceived as being biased. However, that would be unfair to either Dov or me. This book enthralled and entertained me. It made me laugh out loud and shed a tear almost simultaneously.
Seeing that the book is about making movies in the 1980s in Johannesburg, I will use that as an analogy for this review.
Scene 1: Evening. A hand reaches for a book lying on a bedside table.
Close up on the cover. Starlite Memories can be clearly seen in the light of an anglepoise lamp.
Cut to book being opened to chapter 1: Let the roller coaster ride begin. This is Dov’s second book, the first being “Out of line” which was part autobiography and part history lesson.
Starlite Memories (published by Tafelberg) is as different from the first book as a close up is from a wide shot. Dov has found his writing voice in this book and the chapters are short and punchy, leaving the reader either marvelling at his ingenuity when it came to filming scenes in a language he could not understand or literally making props out of tin cans and polystyrene packaging.
The book is also a homage to his brother Motty, who it seems was both nemesis and mentor to younger brother Dov.
The description of downtown Johannesburg in the 70s and 80s is easily recognizable to those who lived in that melting pot or worked in the city centre.
The chapters are headed up with titles and informative descriptions of movies that Dov has enjoyed over the years. One such movie was the 1934 Miracle on 34th Street and the interesting connection was that in 1994 with the remake, I was in New York and I was offered an opportunity to be an extra in a crowd scene, which I had to turn down.
Dov’s boyhood memories together with his work recollections through his early career are juxtaposed with his cartoon work as well as the central theme of the book, his movie-making career.
The first book took 20 years to write and this one much less. I do hope that a third is already in the works.
As a window to Johannesburg and more specifically a time that the modern generation missed out on, this book is excellent and is highly recommended reading.
I started with a movie reference and I will end with another.
Final scene: Johannesburg skyline, long shot.
Fade to black
“It’s a wrap”.
2020 was going along fine, then came March 27th…and the wheels fell off ALL of our plans. To quote Robert Burns, “the best-laid schemes o’mice an’ men Gang aft agley.” Gang agley means that things can go awry…and go awry they certainly did. And NO-ONE saw it coming! Where were all the psychics and clairvoyants pre the arrival of this pandemic? I have delved into the archives of Dov’s work in the 1970s. which, interestingly enough, are still relevant in 2020.
If 2020 was a large corporation…many showed that they did not have a humanitarian side. They still wanted their bills to be paid, no matter what my circumstances were. As a non-travelling travel writer it was difficult to keep the wolf from my door, but begging for payment holidays or credit extensions of fell on deaf ears…or should I say deaf algorithms. In many instances, I had to complete forms online without ever talking to a human, and the sign on my screen would merely say “Does not meet the criteria”…end of conversation!
If 2020 was a credit company…oh yes indeed how quickly this occurred. You would have thought that the banks specifically would have cleared payment quicker, but NO. I still had to wait 3 working days, which in several instances caused ME to miss a payment that unleashed the hounds of Hell.
If 2020 was a murder mystery…
If 2020 was a debt collector…Much of the mental anguish during the year was trying to figure out how to meet end-of-month deadlines without having to sever appendages.
If 2020 was a repo-man…I wonder how many homes were repossessed during the year and where those people found shelter?
If 2020 was an online delivery service…beards and online purchases both were the flavour-of-the-year. And the major cyber stores benefitted to the tune of BILLIONS of $$$’s.
If 2020 was a YouTube ironing tutorial… I would have failed dismally. I still cannot iron and although I did of course do the laundry, I quickly realised that hanging a t-shirt up will sort of remove creases. And if it was creased, did it REALLY matter?
And at the end of the year? 2020 left us with more questions than answers…and our lives forever changed by the pandemic and its effects on both the economics of South Africa and the toll that it has taken on our health, both mental and physical. Will 2021 be any better? We all wait with bated breath. Be safe, stay healthy and PLEASE FFS follow the protocols that have been put in place.