Chameleon and Other Stories
“The leopard may not be able to change its spots, but the chameleon sure can.” In Chameleon & Other Stories, Bill Schermbrucker takes as his central metaphor a creature who changes its colour to reflect and blend in with the environment, just as human beings are sometimes asked to change their colour to reflect and blend in, to protect themselves and to adapt—and cannot; a creature who sits there, very still, eyes looking in separate directions, bearing witness to movement and change. Chameleon & Other Stories is a book about constants; and a book about change. Bill Schermbrucker writes: “You can’t forget your roots. The events and people of my childhood and young adult years are constantly present to me. I hear their voices and, at the most unexpected times, I’m suddenly thrown back to the land itself.” Set in Kenya, the book is a collection of eight short stories which are told from the point of view of Alistair, a young man who is growing up during the time of Mau Mau and subsequent independence. With his strong, clear memory of the past and the country in which he himself grew up, Schermbrucker presents a multi-layered portrait of character, place and time in Chameleon & Other Stories. He writes: “Accent, like clothing style, may change; but memory does not vanish. It doesn’t even fade. It gets more intense and brighter. Partly this comes from isolation… With nobody around to confirm, deny or enlarge on what I say, the sound of my own stories becomes terribly authentic in my head. People sometimes ask me if the stories are autobiographical. The answer is: ‘No, no— much clearer!’” Chameleon & Other Stories is Bill Schermbrucker’s first, very intriguing, very assured book of short stories.