Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recent Reading: J. M. Coetzee's 'Slow Man'

AltTulsa has eclectic tastes in books and writing. We're fond of travel books, short story collections, Iraq war books, and serious novels. 

It's this last category we are concerned with today, a novel by the widely praised by South African writer J. M. Coetzee. (Q: How do we know he's widely praised? A: Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.)

Slow Man chronicles the odd life of Paul Rayment, an Australian photographer laid low in a bicycle accident on the novel's first pages.

The story follows Rayment's physical and psychological recovery, including his growing obsession with his nurse, Marijana, and encounters with the mysterious Elizabeth Costello. This last character, by the way, is the title character of an earlier Coetzee novel.

If this sounds unlikely or strange, that's because it is. We confess: we don't know quite what to make of Slow Man, but we were intrigued by Coetzee's literary imagination. What we need now is time to read more of Coetzee's work, including Elizabeth Costello.

After that, we'll have to go back and read Disgrace, The Life & Times of Michael K, and other Coetzee books. Serious readers, we suspect, will find much to appreciate in these challenging novels.

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