“Writing is travelling unfolding it’s own landscape.” A discussion with Breyten Breytenbach on A Veil of Footsteps
AbstractThis discussion of A Veil of Footsteps (Memoir of a nomadic fictional character) resulted from my reading of the manuscript – initially entitled Word Bird (On the peripatetic art of writing an I) – in August and September 2007. Breyten Breytenbach’s comments on my initial responses to the manuscript led to the idea of giving the conversation a more formal structure. I invited Breytenbach (based in New York at the time) to a
discussion via e-mail. The agreement was that he would have the chance to read the final text and to remove anything prior to publication. He answered all my questions and added slight modifications to one or two answers once the conversation had been completed, but removed nothing. The discussion lasted a month (October 2007), was interrupted and then concluded in February 2008. Other than the addition of a bibliography and endnotes, it has not been modified. I was concerned, at the time, about the reception in South Africa of a work that breaks so many rules. A Veil of Footsteps, simultaneously playful and serious in a characteristically Breytenbach manner, is riddled with pitfalls and my aim was to point one or two of them out with the hope that critics would then move on to the more challenging aspects of the work. The discussion took on its own momentum however and due to its length and nature I decided to withhold it at the time of the publication of A Veil of Footsteps.