Ex-kiap Laurie Meintjes’ book Pretzel Legs is billed succinctly as the
reminiscences of an expatriate South African relating his youthful impressions
Of course, it is the
latter period that will be of most relevance to PNG
Attitude readers. But this does disservice to what is an insightful memoir with many sparkling gems
between its covers.
In a sense, this is a
coming-of-age book: a personal, thoughtful, well-told story of growing up in
Meintjes’ life is challenged and transformed
by the cultural adaptation required of a young kiap, where significant professional,
personal and moral choices have to be made.
For Meintjes, this challenge generated a zesty and embracing approach to life and his story
is told joyfully, with good humour and with great anecdotes. This is a book that raises the spirits.
The ‘pretzel legs’ refer to the appearance of the gangly young Meintjes but also, I surmise, to the
greenstick youth who is shaped by the life forces he encounters and who, making the
right choices and with a bit of luck, matures into a substantial and accomplished
The Meintjes mind is
sharp, the pen acute and the writing faithful to reality. Passages such as this
bring back rich memories:
When Laurie finished
being a kiap he turned to teaching, from which he’s now retired to live in
Cooranbong NSW where, amongst other pursuits, he writes poetry.
Pretzel Legs or Stepping Out of Africa by Lawrence
Meintjes, Michael J Horn Blackwood, South Australia 2003, 238pp, 38 illus
PNG Attitude readers can copies from the author at the
great discount price of $10 (includes postage). Email Laurie Meintjes at [email protected]