Thursday, April 10, 2008

J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace and Slow Man

It's because of the Noble Prize winning novel Slow Man that I days after finishing it I'm still sun burnt and peeling.

Last year, I got my hands on a copy of J.M. Coetzee's Booker prize winning novel Disgrace, and found it to be just an incredible piece of literature. Disgrace was such an incredible novel. In fact, I'm surprised at how much I liked Disgrace. In Disgrace you have this purely unlikeable, yet strangely sympathetic character who is sex-o-manic (I doubt that's a real word). The main character, David Laurie willfully looses his job as beyond middle-age communications professor after he did not acknowledge the inappropriateness of having sex with a young theater major.

Yet as disgrace unfolds, and you travel with David Laurie through the horrible days ahead of him, the story unravels in such a distinct and powerful way. Not to mention that Coetzee's writing style is simply fascinating. I don't think I've ever read something that created such a wide spectrum and perspective on such a challenging topic of rape and consensual sex.

I thought I was preparing myself for less controversial reading when I started reading Coetzee's novel Slow Man. Simply put, the writing was still fascinating, but the narrative was much more limited. In fact, the story, hardly had a story at all. The book was far more philosophical, dealing with the topics of loss, legacy, and loneliness.

Slow Man tells the story of another lonely man in his late middle-ages, this time though he looses his leg in accident involving him on his bike and young teenage boy in a car.

Slow Man isn't quite the "movie adaptation" type of book because frankly, the narrative of it is not that interesting or even make that much sense, fictional novelist Elizabeth Costello comes and stays with lonely amputee Paul as he's dealing with trouble adjusting to his new condition, and coveting a relationship with the Croatian nurse-assistant and her family. Paul longs for a family, a legacy, even a heritage to call his own.

Yet, like I said, it's Slow Man that gave me a sun burn. My wife and I were outside on Sunday reading and laying out, and she fell asleep and after staring Slow Man a weeks back I couldn't help but turning the pages and reading it.

Recently, J.M. Coetzee (along with Ian McEwan) have really captured me in his writing ability. When I read Coetzee I believe he could write about anything mundane and make it interesting and irresistibly readable.

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