Sunday, 27 January 2008

An Internet friendship success story

In May last year I posted a scathing review of a sex scene written by Aussie author Tony Park in his second book, Zambezi. I called it ‘ghastly and boring’ and said it made me ‘both sweat heavily and laugh out loud’.

So you can imagine my horror when Juno phoned me and said, ‘You’d better log on. Tony Park has responded to your review.’

I’ve done a fair bit of book reviewing in the past – I was the books editor for the South African edition of a glossy men’s magazine for a couple of years – and I’m not normally nasty in them. Usually, if I read a book I don’t think passes muster, I just don’t review it. So my attack on Tony was both gratuitous and cowardly – I honestly never imagined for a second that he’d read it. (To be fair to Tony, I did like his book; it was just the sex scenes that made me cringe.)

I logged on with some trepidation, expecting to be dressed down by an author with a large, affronted ego. Instead, Tony thanked me for buying his book, said he was ‘learning from past mistakes’ and noted that ‘practice makes perfect’. (He’s now on his sixth book.)

Oddly, I felt more dressed-down by his gracious reply than I’d have been had he frothed at the mouth.

Anyway, this led to a lengthy email correspondence during which I learnt that Tony and his wife (‘Mrs Blog’, so named in Tony’s own blog) habitually spent months every year in southern Africa – yet had never made it to the western or southern Cape.

‘Next time you’re in the country,’ I suggested, ‘put me on your itinerary.’

Last Tuesday, a little white CitiGolf pulled up outside my house, and out of it climbed Tony and Mrs Blog. We proceeded to pull a wine-drenched all-nighter (with Mrs Blog sensibly going off to bed at a reasonable hour, then, some time later, miraculously reappearing to rejoin the party), which included negotiating a power outage at dinner-time (simply solved: we braaied), discovering a common fondness for tacky ’70s and ’80s music (Tony says he hasn’t been able to get ‘Burning Bridges’ out of his head since), several nighttime swims to tame the heat, and daft dancing in the living room.

Later that morning, after a few hours of snatched sleep, we counted the cost: the kitchen looking as if a hurricane had blown through it, a few broken glasses, a scrambled-egg mishmash of CDs scattered around the place, clothes and sunglasses and towels temporarily misplaced, and industrial-sized headaches all round. (And, in my case, two grumpy teenagers who were outraged to find us still awake and behaving in a very silly manner when they got up to go to school.)

And yet look at what was gained: thanks to the magic of the Internet and the interactivity of blogs, we forged an unlikely friendship. And I was thrilled when, as they pulled off in their little white CitiGolf, Tony and Mrs Blog left with those immortal words: ‘We'll be back!’

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Juno said...

Well, I would have given anything to be a THAT party. Don't you just love the Internet?

meggie said...

You lucky lucky girl! And I would think, lucky Tony & Mrs Blog. It sounds like you all know how to party hard!

tonypark said...

Yes, it was a night to remember, for all the right reasons.

Your dog is a very good dancer.

And now, by way of a post script, Muriel has agreed to proof read my fifth book before it's released this year and point out "howling screamers" to me.

I received a "well done" on my swimming pool sex scene in the forthcoming book from my publisher (who usually describes such scenes as "sleazy")... but will it pass muster with my new friend Muriel?

Juno said...

You are a lucky chap Tony because Muriel is arguably one the best proofreaders and copy editors in the world. Really, she is.