Lunchtime read: The Black Madonna

It sounds simple planning to use the ingredients of a 15 year-old boy, a buck that dies and is stripped by flesh eating ants and the solitude of the African landscape as the tools in a coming of age story. But it is only made to look so smooth because Lessing combines those limited props in such a powerful way.

In A Sunrise on the Veld, a boy sneaks off before his parents are awake to shoot guinea fowl and breath in life and feel alive. But the sight of a dead buck slows him in his tracks and he starts to consider mortality and the inevitable moment when he won’t feel so young anymore.

He wanders home planning to wake up and seize the dawn the following morning but accepting that things had changed and he had plenty to think of rather than shooting the breeze without a care in the world.

Last short story tomorrow…

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