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Slow Man Hardcover – 22 Sep 2005


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Hardcover, 22 Sep 2005
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books (22 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034598
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,282,336 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.

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Review

"Sensational... Another exemplary tale of suffering from one of the best writers of our time, who dares to articulate our incomprehensible existence, and manages it with extraordinary and sensitive eloquence" (The Times)

"[Slow Man] finds the Nobel laureate on top form... A consummate writer of fiction" (Observer)

"Coetzee is a unique voice; no novelist explores the ideas and the power of literature and the sense of displacement so boldly. Slow Man will add to his immense reputation" (Independent on Sunday)

"Remorselessly human, it is also funny and touching: Coetzee the artist remains the complete novelist" (Irish Times)

"A tremendous and startling novel... Coetzee is a novelist who cares about every word. Slow Man confirms him as among our greatest living authors" (The Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Nobel laureate Coetzee's brillant account of a reclusive man in his sixties, forced to confront his resentment for what his life has become after the unexpected arrival of a famed writer. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
THE BLOW CATCHES him from the right, sharp and surprising and painful, like a bolt of electricity, lifting him up off the bicycle. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 April 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After an accident (`Your missing leg is just a sign, a symbol or symptom') an old man looks back at his life (`a wasted chance') of missed opportunities (`having no child was the great mistake of my life'). Partly to blame are `those in whose lives you are born (and who) do not pass away.'
As a lonely heart, he looks for affection and falls in love with his nurse, who perfectly looks after `a helpless old man in ruinous pyjamas trailing an obscene pink stump behind him from which the sodden bandages are slipping.' His nurse, however, is already married and has a son.
The `slow man' projects his dream to become a father in his nurse's son.

One of the main characters of the tale is the writer Elizabeth Costello (subject of another book by J.M. Coetzee) who is introduced in the middle of this book. Her role here, however, is not so masterly woven in the plot as the author Daniel Defoe in Coetzee's masterpiece `Foe'. She seems rather to be more an early deus ex machina.

This book, where `the need to be loved and the storytelling are connected', is a very worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 15 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
The first 80 pages of this book are riveting. Coetzee's prose is almost flawless as we follow Paul literally from the moment he's hit by young Wayne Bright or Blight, through his experiences with rehabilitation nurses and social services, unsuitable carers and finally the arrival of Marijana. It's a very human experience - the reader understands Paul's feelings that his life is over, even as you are frustrated by his willingness to just give up. With Marijana, Paul sees a chance at a fresh life and again, you sympathise with his dreams of becoming her lover and thereby gaining the family he never had.

All this just seems to stop when Elizabeth Costello comes on the page. She seems to represent Coetzee himself and instead of a story about a man's rehabilitation from amputation, the rest of the book is essentially Coetzee's musings on the writing process and specifically, the relationship between author and character. This robs the story of all its life as you become aware of its artificial nature. Costello's discussions with Rayment are just an excuse to swap speeches, a sickness that spreads to Marijana and her family. If you're a writer, then there is some intellectual interest in this but as a reader I felt disengaged from the story and all sympathy I felt for Paul disappeared.

Like I said, Coetzee's prose is excellent. I liked the way he set out Marijana's use of English, I enjoyed Paul's inner thoughts and I thought the imagery was great. It's just a shame that the introduction of Costello robs the story of any direction and sets up something of a flat ending.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Minerva on 30 May 2007
Format: Paperback
This novel got off to a great start. It explores the life of a middle-aged man (Paul) who loses his leg in an accident. Paul decides he doesn't want an artificial prosthesis and faces life without it but with the help of various people. A particularly poignant part of the story is when he falls in the shower and is in danger of catching hypothermia because the cold water is cascading down on top of him. He fantasizes about women and develops a crush on his care-giver. However, half way through the story a character called Elizabeth is introduced who also happens to feature in another one of his novels; the reader is rudely awakened - is this character writing the story about Paul, after all she seems to know all his thoughts and feelings? How could a stranger just move into his apartment and know all about him? Why did the writer invent this character? The reader is left with many unanswered questions which prove unsatisfying and irritating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NAVAL LANGA on 28 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's not first time that J. M. Coetzee, the Nobel Prise winner, has put into the fictional characters in his novels. But in Slow Man, his first novel after getting Nobel Prize, is unique in several ways. Mrs. Elisabeth Costello, the protagonist of his earlier novel visits the life of a Slow Man, Mr. Paul Rayment.

Here the man, debilitated by age and an accident, wishes to replenish his love-less life with half dream and half reality. Though he needs his nurse due to his disability, too, he wants to have her son as his son. He, however, doesn't rule out a corporeal desire vis a vis his nurse's younger body. For her son's future he wishes to be a benefactor.

Mrs. Elisabeth Costello, a sudden and uninvited guest in his life, confuses him about the real purposes left in his life.

In shape, the slow Man is as small as other novels by J. M. Coetzee, and in taste it's as strong as pickles from the hot sand of Australia. Slow Man is a must readable one for those who enjoy the class and the slow pace of writing penned by a master.
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56 of 67 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
One day while cycling along the Magill road in Adelaide Paul Rayment is knocked down by a car, resulting in the amputation of his leg. Humiliated, he retreats to his flat and a succession of day-care nurses. After a series of carers who are either "unsuitable" or just temporary, he happens upon Marijana, with whom he has a European childhood in common: his in France, hers in Croatia. Marijana nurses him tactfully and efficiently, ministering to his new set of needs. His feelings for her soon become deeper and more complex. He attempts to fund her son Drago's passage through college, a move which meets the refusal of her husband, causing a family rift. Drago moves in with Paul, but not before an entirely different complication steps in, in the form of celebrated Australian novelist Elizabeth Costello, who threatens to take over the direction of Paul's life in ways he's not entirely comfortable with.
Slow Man has to get the award for "hardest novel of the year to unwrap", in that it's actually more like three novels layered variously on top of each other, and all in a mere 263 pages! It is also, without doubt, the most challenging novel of the year. Coetzee having won the thing two times already and being a Nobel laureate, it never stood a chance getting to the Booker shortlist, but that doesn't stop it being possibly the best novel of the year by miles.
The start is relatively easy to get to grips with: Paul is knocked from his bike, has his limb removed, and becomes one of those who must submit to being cared for. Just like David Lurie from his Booker-prize-winning Disgrace, Paul stubbornly refuses the aid which could make his life superficially normal, (an artificial limb,) and surrenders himself stubbornly to his incapacity.
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