" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

February 15, 2013

Bryce Courtenay: The Power of One

Bryce Courtenay was an author whose books touched millions.
I have to admit though that I have never read a Bryce Courtenay book, nor even seen a film based on one of his books, such as the one above.
Bryce Courtenay
But that doesn't mean my life has not been touched by Bryce indirectly through others whose lives have been touched by his stories.
He came to my attention around Christmas time last year 
with his last book Jack of Diamonds, which was heavily promoted in Australia at the time.
He knew in September that he was dying and announced he was writing one more book, which of course was  Jack of Diamonds.
 Also he delivered this heart wrenching thank you to his fans not long before he died, which was all over the media in Australia.
But what really hit me was the title of the book, because at the time I was participating with sync bloggers over the "Jack" syncs in movies that were coming out around Christmas time.
Syncjack 2012
Syncjack 2012
 "If poker was an addiction then music was an overwhelming obsession; one could never replace the other in my life. 
During the Great Depression there was little hope for a boy born into the slums of Cabbagetown, Toronto. 
But Jack Spayd is offered a ticket out in the form of a Hohner harmonica, won by his brutal drunken father in a late-night card game. 
Jack makes music as a way of escaping his surroundings, and his talent leads him to a jazz club and, eventually, to the jazz piano.
Jack is a virtuoso and hits the road, enchanting audiences in Canada, wartime Europe and Las Vegas, where he is caught up in the world of elite poker and falls under the spell of his boss, the enigmatic Bridgett Fuller. 
Vegas is a hard town ruled by the Mafia, but Jack prospers, until his luck turns bad and he falls foul of the Mob. 
Forced to run for his life from Vegas, he must also leave the woman he adores. 
His adventuring takes him to the far reaches of Africa, to a rare and valuable bird that may seal his fate – and to the love of a very different woman.
Set across three continents, Jack of Diamonds is a spellbinding story of chance, music, corruption and love.
Bryce Courtenay writes in a moving epilogue that Jack of Diamonds will be his last novel."
Jack of Diamonds
Kevin Rudd?-)
Reading the Wikipedia entry on Bryce I see that his work did in fact have an influence on my life, and right from a young age, too.
"Born Arthur Bryce Courtenay in Johannesburg, South Africa, he spent most of his early years in a small village in the  
Lebombo Mountains in the Limpopo province
He later attended King Edward VII School.
In 1955, while studying journalism in London, Courtenay met his future wife, Benita, and eventually emigrated to Sydney, Australia
They married in 1959 and had three sons – Brett, Adam and Damon.
Courtenay entered the advertising industry and, over a career spanning 34 years, was the Creative Director of McCann Erickson, J. Walter Thompson & George Patterson Advertising. His award-winning campaigns included Louie the Fly, the original
Milkybar Kid commercial and the Australian Labor Party's 1972 election campaign, It's Time."
These TV commercials were a big part of my childhood viewing on the small screen.
"His novels are primarily set in Australia, his adopted country, or South Africa, the country of his birth. 
His first book, The Power of One, was published in 1989 and, despite Courtenay's fears that it would never sell, quickly became one of Australia's best-selling books by any living author. The story was made into a film, as well as being re-released in an edition for children. 
Courtenay was one of Australia's most commercially successful authors. 
He built up this success over the long-term by promoting himself and developing a relationship with readers as much as marketing his books; for instance, he gave away up to 2,500 books free each year to readers he met in the street. 
However, only The Power of One has been published in the
United States
Courtenay claimed that this was because "American publishers for the most part have difficulties about Australia, they are interested in books in their own country first and foremost. 
However, we receive many e-mails and letters from Americans who have read my books and I am hoping in the future that publishers will recognize that there is a market for all my books in the U.S." "
"April Fool's Day is a 1993 novel by 
Australian author Bryce Courtenay
The book is a tribute to the author's son, Damon Courtenay, a haemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS through an infected blood transfusion. 
The title refers to the date of Damon's death, 1 April 1991 
(April Fools' Day).
Damon was a classic haemophilliac all his life. 
He attempted to write this book himself but did not have much success. 
On his death bed, he asked his father to write it for him
Damon talked a lot about love; he believed it was important that everybody knew how to love. Evidence of this is his attitude towards people who treated people with AIDS unfairly. 
Not much was known about AIDS back then and sufferers were frowned upon. 
To quote his devoted partner Celeste, "Love is an energy, it cannot be created nor destroyed. It simply is. Giving meaning to life and direction to goodness.""

Solomon's Song

Bryce died on 22 November, 2012, at his Canberra home on the anniversary of Jack Kennedy's assassination.
His life just shows (as much as it can) how much one life can have on many, many others.

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