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Boyhood: Scenes from provincial life: A Memoir Paperback – 6 Aug 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Aug 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099268272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099268277
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting For the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.

Product Description

Review

"This life is described with such skill, such exactitude and such relentlessness that I found myself gasping for air... Coetzee has achieved something universal in his work...a fine book, probably the best description of a childhood I have ever read" (The Times)

"As funny, cruel and terrifying as life itself. It is also intense and elegant, clearly the product of the complex, subtle imagination which shapes Coetzee's outstanding fiction... As austerely beautiful as would be expected of Coetzee the artist...its aloof, edgy grace and seething passion ensure the narrative is both truthful and mysterious" (Irish Times)

"Boyhood is a deeply-felt and utterly compelling account of a South African childhood: the narrative style is as spare and lean as the Karoo flatlands which form its backdrop" (Daily Telegraph)

"The economy with which Coetzee makes sense of his past is evidence, once again, of his outstanding talent" (Independent on Sunday)

"An uncannily accurate picture of the way things were in South Africa" (Literary Review)

Book Description

The first volume of memoir from one of the world's greatest living writers: Coetzee examines his young self with dispassionate curiosity and an unflinching eye.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this youth memories, J.M. Coetzee defines himself as `twice-born: `born from woman and born from the farm'. He is, first of all, a mother's son (`he clings to her as his only protector'), but `the farm is his secret fate'.
Growing up in a rude and unsocialized family with eccentric characters, with a father who becomes an alcoholic and a mother, for whom `studying is just nonsense' and `children should be sent to trade school', he nevertheless continues to study `normally'.
Through school, he discovers the real world around him: the different social classes, the opposition (and ostracism) between black / colored and white (race), English and Afrikaans (language), and Catholic / Protestant and Anglican (religion).

This clear, sublime, impeccable prose is a far cry from J.M. Coetzee's struggling `Beckettian' beginnings.
Its undercooled, accurate and still dramatic style makes this book a marvelous and moving read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greystones113 on 5 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Initially it is rather unsettling to read an autobiography of sorts written in the 3rd person and it takes a while to settle into the pace of the book. But after a while it spins it's magic and pulls you in as do most of Coetzee's works. It's a fabulous evocation of childhood, made more moving by the bizarre backdrop of South Africa at the time - segregation and ostracization was rife across all of SA, including it's children. JMC's spare, clinical, unemotional writing style somehow manages to stir powerful emotions in the reader and reading the book is, perhaps surprisingly, a genuinely moving experience.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Mar 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have read on the subject of childhood. The narration of the young S. African boy is so compelling and emotional. Describing his fears, worries, his questions on life that no one gives an answer to. Coetzee has managed to sum up the (sometimes) terrifying process of growing up in one book.
Very real, very true and very touching. This book has melted my heart...
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By kelly on 11 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Once again, I was left stunned by Coetzee's incisive instruments which cut to the bone - of truth, of reality. Even so, i wanted to return to absorb sections of the book which, begged re-living the experience (evocative of Doris Lessing's pure Africa, and inhabitants) The early part of the book can rouse spontaneous recognition, laughter, at a young boy's viewa or comments on his world and events. The third person device does not impinge - it cleverly removes the need for elaboration. As the story progresses, we move with the boy's shedding of naivety, the questionings and doubts about a mixed society, a small town, a parochial school world, Contrast this with his forays into the land of the Karoo, different relatives, sparse farmlands, where the dust gets into your throat, the thorns will lodge..while his observations sharpen, and becomes aware of passions, Yet, as he grows, he appears steadily,defensively,more obstreperous and we are the audience, This book may seem to be an apology to his mother, at times. He has spurned her devoted efforts on his behalf almost throughout (and for his younger brother), He juggles his other scorn which grow towards his other parent, his father. They move to another town. His mother is stoic in her remarkable fortitude and abilities,sadly, . Luckily the boy is clever and ambitious, though with only an almost mystical awareness of that. The boy remains, for me, an entrenched (other) character,by Coetzze, He is under my skin and never forgotten, even it that would infuriate him, by nature!
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