Jennifer de Klerk
We are told that author David Marcus, an air ambulance pilot, based his tales on his own experiences and on actual cases of ambulance air rescue throughout southern Africa, although the characters and organisations he uses are fictional.
So there never was a South African Air Rescue Service (by that name) with a green cross on the wings of the plane, acerbic administrator Sonja Schoeman and volunteers such as pilots Harry Kamel, the attorney with a conscience, massive Tiny Venter, and the doctors, nurses and paramedics who scrambled at a moment’s notice to ferry the injured and dying from remote parts of the country to hospital.
Pity. But Marcus brings them to life with humour and repartee, describing vividly their battles with fog and thunderstorms, dusty airfields without landing lights and the constant race against time.
I suspect that their counterparts have been and are still flying similar missions …
Among the patients are a little girl bitten by a puff adder, a sound engineer with malaria airlifted from war-torn Ruanda, road crash victims whose feet had to be cut off to get them out of their smashed truck, a tourist charged by a rogue buffalo and a woman with a strange intestinal complaint.
In between Marcus meshes stories from the continent, such as Luderitz and the diamonds of the Sperrgebiet and the Moffats of Kuruman, along with fascinating facts about flying, South Africa’s patchy history, poignant personal stories and even a horrific canned hunting episode.
Running through the eight stories is a subtle, but touching love story … this is a book with all the flavour and colour of our truly diverse society and continent.
Tales from the Cross by David Marcus
ISBN 9781 4943 9801 9
Contact: Caroline Konstant, 084 8172 405
Jennifer de Klerk is editor of Artslink.co.za