Reading Recommendation: From “Catastrophes,” Breyten Breytenbach

This recommendation comes by way of my friend Ashlie. It’s from Breyten Breytenbach’s Catastrophes, which you can read an excerpt of in Guernica:

Bergen is a city of seagulls and white. It is a colossal sea animal washed up long long ago and now disintegrating bloated and slower than death the seagulls are blowflies hovering continually high above the bony cadaver floating on the wind lamenting through the awful scissors of their beaks plunging to snatch up morsels of meat. Sometimes the bells weep sound rolls over the roofs and back particularly when white snow is powdered over the city the churches the boats are all whitened in cocoons of snow except for the gulls they reside above the snow on the wind. I live in a hollow room and sometimes I have to hide in the corner the squawking birds are squinting through the windows with white eyes. White stems of rain always fall along the thin windows except when it snows and the whiteness becomes more gauzelike the flakes come to convulse on the sills but in summer everything is different and now an inhuman hard white light thumps day and night against the panes. The whole world is white there’s nothing to eat but still strange carbuncles are strewn over the earth’s surface and abruptly burst open and head-nodding white flowers grow the seagulls alight and inspect the flowers with tilted bone-heads.

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