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reuk van appels

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  522 ratings  ·  50 reviews
It's not that Marnus Erasmus is forced to parrot his major-general father's prejudices--the 11-year-old has no idea he's even doing so. The voice Mark Behr has created is a mix of youthful innocence and hope and terrible hatred and ignorance. Unconsciously relaying tales of Communist indoctrination and Coloured abomination, the boy is all set to become another soldier of t ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published 1993 by Queillerie
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Hayes
Ahhh... the dénouement! Defined by Wikipedia it is
a series of events that follow the climax of a drama or narrative, and thus serves as the conclusion of the story ... from the Old French word denoer, "to untie", and from nodus, Latin for "knot." Simply put, dénouement is the unraveling or untying of the complexities of a plot.

Sounds easy, but why then is there such a problem with just this aspect of so many novels, and this one is no exception.

It is the story of Marnus, a pre-adolescent Afrikan
...more
Jennybeast
I read this book for the portrait of South Africa, which was moving. I feel that it connected me to a time and a place in a believable way. I do not understand why the author decided to add random sexual trauma #3 to the end of the book. For me it did not connect in any way to anything else that was going on. Like the Kite Runner, it took a fascinating book and turned it into sensationalistic dreck. I absolutely believe that childhood sexual abuse occurs more frequently than we want to admit, an ...more
Cheryl
This book is about a young boy growing up Afrikaan during the 1970s South African apartheid era in a fairly privileged family with an authoritative father. The child narrator was a great move here by Mark Behr because even though I did not agree with the views of the narrator, I was able to see things from that point of view. Very descriptive prose in some places, great use of dialogue to showcase character flaw. Though the book really did not talk about apartheid as I thought it would, it discu ...more
Tony
This is the story of Marnus, a young Afrikaaner boy growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid years. It is a moving account of his childhood experiences and of his interactions with the world around him. 'The Smell of Apples' was a enjoyable read but also an insightful one. The way Aparteid touches Marnus'life defines his attitude and relationships with others. His family live a privileged life but there seems to be the underlying, ever-present threat that everything they and their forebea ...more
Nicole Gervasio
So, I'll admit: I totally misread this novel the first time, and I carried that misreading into a graduate class this fall (five years after my first read) and ended up liking it far less once my classmates clued me in on the fact that I was blind/a moron. Since my misreading won't actually be a spoiler, I'll tell you what I'd remembered happening: I'd thought the General had gotten with Marnus's father, not another adult (to tell you this would be the spoiler). To me, this knowledge helped make ...more
Jennifer
This was a striking book about South Africa in the 1970s with a consideration of the harrowing legacy of this period. Whether or not they agree with it, most students of colonial/post-colonial literature are familiar with Frederic Jameson's controversial thesis made in 1986 that all third-world literature is national allegory. Personally, I think that because an author loses control of his work once a reader picks it up to read, it is difficult to come to a conclusive decision such as this one. ...more
Alistair
i liked this about a boy growing up in an afrikaans christian household in the 1970's in south Africa . the story is told in one long chapter with interspersed passages describing the boy as a grown up soldier fighting the guerillas in Angola where he dies .

clearly the family are decent people trying to maintain their way of life against the oncoming changes when apartheid is dismantled and i really enjoyed the intricacies of family life and the boy's blood brother friendship and his relationshi
...more
David
I have to revise some of my previous remarks and rating of this novel as I proceed to write my paper. While there is not much in way of stylistic beauty (perhaps the most significant attribute for me in reading a novel), I think that it is acute in its observations of the way that the family and nation place heteronormative policing pressures on an individual, our poor 11-year old Marnus.

I would love to spend more time thinking about how it utilizes Moby Dick as an intertext. It's definitely us
...more
Lulu
The Smell of Apples. Evocative of summer days, sunny fields, and a fruit that's great eaten out of hand or chopped up and presented in a pie or salad. It does not bring to mind the last decades of apartheid, the cruelty of evil men, or a child discovering the worst parts of human nature. Mark Behr's novel follows the life of a privileged, white 11-year-old boy named Marnus Erasmus in 1970s South Africa. Marnus and his best friend, Frikkie, are keenly aware of the sharp racial divides in their co ...more
Emilie
This book was a very quick read, only about 200 pages, and it is set in early 70'ties South Africa. I decided to read the book because I have a big school assigment coming up and I thought I might analyze this novel and wrtite about SA and Apartheid in English and history. I'm not sure I'm gonna do that. Don't get me wrong there were some things I liked about the book and I don't regret reading it (it was very pretty short, but I just don't think I could make a 5-page analysis about it. I was qu ...more
Ruby
This book is all over the place. It is set in apartheid South Africa and written from the perspective of a young boy, but then there are these little flash-forwards interspersed throughout of the young boy as a grown man and a soldier at war. That doesn't sound like such a terrible idea, but all it does is make the story feel even more disjointed. In addition to this obvious slapped on message to the reader that war is hell, you will also discover that racism is insidious, parents are tragically ...more
Susan
Coming on the heels of reading In a Different Time, Peter Harris' memoir of his work as an anti-apartheiddefense attorney, Mark Behr's debut novel extends my stay in South Africa. A tale of lost innocence and a disturbing portrait of Afrikaner society in the mid 1970's; Behr's writing is quiet, understated, and chilling. I wish Goodreads offered a half star option - this one would be a 3.5* for me
Azeza
Had to read it for a literary Assignment. I was shocked in the end. Really? Did that really have to happend? I know the author wants to show us how looks are deceiving, how an apple can be rotten from the inside, but still shiny from the outside. But smell never deceives.

I think the thoughts from Masrnus in 1988 didn't add much to the story. We know how war is, we knoe how horrible it can be. Nothing surprising there. I also thought that the Marnus we got to know through the book was a completel
...more
Cynthia
This was my 2nd read of the book. It's so well written.
Andrew
A very astute portrayal of South Africa in the early 1970s, from the point of view of a young Afrikaner, with excellent use of metaphor.
Tessa
I read this book while staying In the area where it was set. I appreciated this connection. I also appreciated seeing how permeating the racism was in every-day life as this white boy absorbed the messages that surrounded him. However, I am annoyed by a reading yet another decent book that spends its last section turning the direction of unhealthy relationships. In this book, it felt like a sensational add-on rather than an important part of the book. I'm disappointed this book is lauded to be s ...more
Dmehringer
A time in history I don't know much about. I liked that the story is told from the boy's innocent point-of-view. Don't like anything else. The book is one long chapter for 200 pages. Story reflects the racism and arrogance of 1970's S Africa, but no adult ever steps in to tell the reader what's going on. Lots of words in Africaan dialect, with no clue what any of the phrases mean in English. Plus another boy abused for no apparent reason? I don't recommend this book!
Philip Lane
I thought this was well written and I got a good sense of the location and the life of a boy in South Africa. However I also felt it was somewhat lightweight in terms of interesting content - it has a startling ending of course which I can't say too much about so as not to spoil it. However that ending seemed to come out of the blue and throws up issues which are not addressed as it is quickly covered up and then the book ends. I am left a bit bemused.
Anne Mcarthur
A beautifully written book.
Min
It's a book about Apartheid from a White, middle-class, Afrikaans boy's perspective, perhaps to explain, perhaps to justify, mostly to understand. One of the things that was pointed out to me and I found quite profound about this story was how much Apartheid operated on, besides fear, illusion, blind selfishness and dogmatism, love.
chucklesthescot
I was expecting a pro or anti-apartheid book but that barely got a mention in this book. I found it a dull book with a dull family and nothing interesting going on and then a visiting paedophile is thrown in for a chapter to molest the boy's friend. Not exactly an inspiring read and certainly not the best read to come out of Africa.
Sandy
Interesting, poignant novel about growing up in white S. Africa with all its associated prejudices and illusions. I felt much compassion for the young boy whose father shatters the boy's idealized version of the world - how painful and harsh the realities that our parents are not perfect.
Sue Davis
The narrator is an eleven-year-old Afrikans speaking boy, son a a high ranking military officer involved in the effort to preserve white rule by brining in other governments--Chilian military and the CIA. The boy sees evil but never comes to terms with it and eventually dies fighting in Angola.
Ruth
I didn't really understand this book, and had to go back and re-read parts of it, especially the end, to understand ( I think) that this is what he was thinking about as he was dying. I still don't know much about South Africa, wish I understood the context of the book more.
Amos Kovacs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Iain Hudson
I had to teach this one as a set text to a lower secondary class - a bit of an eye-opener and some sections had to be handled very delicately. Quite good at evoking apartheid era South Africa although one or two passages are gratuitous.
Kelly
I read this book when I was sixteen and getting ready to go to South Africa. I wasn't ready for the ending, for the subtleties of the book. I remember I had to read it again, and it stayed in my memory a long time . . .
Kelly
Wow, where to begin. It has been more than a month since I read this book and I am still in shock. Not what I expected. Looking forward to discussing it with some friends!
Katarina
I would probably like this book a lot more if I were to read it now; I didn't really understand what it was about at the time I was reading (in high school).
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