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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a 'Foe'
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,...
Published on 29 April 2008 by Luc REYNAERT

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment
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...
Published on 30 May 2007 by Minerva


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3.0 out of 5 stars Good beginning, mediocre middle, lame ending, 4 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
Coetzee's Slow Man begins sharp and dynamic, gripping the reader in the first sentence, and pulls him into the quick sand of his prose, but then buries him deep in a mire of confusion from the middle of the book to the end.

Paul Rayment, a sixty year old man on a bike, has a serious road traffic accident and later ends up disabled at home with a nurse he says he loves. Rayment has either lost his senses, or is not smart enough to keep his thoughts to himself, and he tells the nurse, Marijana, a married woman with three children, that he loves her. This throws her into a spin. She is a professional and in no way, can or will, reciprocate his feelings. She is an intelligent, highly qualified Catholic Croatian woman and reacts by staying away for some time. But Rayment hounds her, even when he knows that her marriage is at risk, promising her son a private education, amongst other money related solutions to her family problems, and feigning need of nursing care at times. Later, he lies to her and her husband, saying that he just wants to help, give them some money, set up a trust fund for all the children, and be a sort of god father, whilst still lusting after her.

Of course this is a sad and lonely man whose life has changed through no fault of his own. He may have well lost his morals too through the accident; on the other hand, he may well and truly want to help the family. But he lusts after another man's wife, and that throws into question any purity in his claim to help the family. He tries at the end to patch up the mess, with the family, but not convincingly enough. All he wants, he says in return for his benevolence, is a key to their back door. A recipe for disaster if you ask me.

The quality of Coetzee's writing is clear - the prose is elegant, with the bonus of some comic elements. However, the plot is thin, and just when the author should have brought in something more substantial, such as a solid character or a plot or sub-plot line, he bestows upon the reader, a boring thin-spirited, unreal character, Elizabeth Costello, who confuses the the reader from page 80 to the end.

Elizabeth Costello is supposed to be an author conducting research for her book, for which Paul Rayment berates her from time to time, treating her as a nuisance. However, she acts as if she is actually inside his head, and some form of magicial but old, ugly being, who enters the house and leaves whenever she pleases, offering him words of advice and giving instruction concerning how he should run his life and fix the mess he has made for himself - "I came to find out what happens when a man of sixty engages his heart unsuitably," she says. This is the premise of the novel: a man engaging his heart unsuitably.

Whatever questions are raised in this book though, are not successfully answered or alluded to, leaving the reader feeling unable to join up the dots successfully.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply captivating and challenging, 4 Jan 2009
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
Simply captivating, Coetzee's story line and characterisations are crafted to perfection, every word and phrase is superbly judged with humour and humanity in equal measure.

Living in comfortable, suburban Adelaide sixty-year-old Paul Rayment's future is turned inside-out when he loses a leg as a result of a devastating cycling accident. He retreats from the world outside and his past as he struggles to accept the consequences of his physical loss. He comes to depend entirely on the ministrations of Marijana, a professional nurse of Croatian origin, and gets to know more of her and her family, especially Drago, her teenage son. All seems to be progressing until interrupted by the unheralded arrival of novelist Elizabeth Costello, who seems to want to take over his life and loves. Just why has she appeared on the scene now, or at all, and what are her intentions for Rayment? Is he simply a research project for a new book or is there more to it?

Slow Man could be viewed as a story of mental and physical suffering, a lonely man failing to face up to his seemingly curtailed future and choosing infuriating self-pity as his opt-out. Perhaps it a case of the sad delusions of someone entering his older years who believes he can still offer romance and enjoyment to a younger woman. Or is it a childless individual, out of touch with the modern world who believes there is one last opportunity to act as godfather to a ready-made family who will care for him in his old age?

Coetzee has us tracking all possibilities, and with such skill and sharpness, and he does not provide all the answers. This work of fiction forces us to ask questions of ourselves and those we love and the realities we will all have to deal with at some point. For Paul Rayment, it is the loss of a limb, but we will all have to deal with some sort of loss as we get older, Coetzee simply challenges us to think about that.

Read and enjoy a laureate at his peak.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars colonization as an act of love, 17 April 2007
By 
Lisa W. Jacobs (ny) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
Two points:

1. the postcolonial theme which runs through Coetzee's body of work: Paul's desire to take care of the Jokic family, to move into a shed in their backyard & watch over them = Paul is the patriarchal colonial figure (though he claims to Costello that he merely passes as Australian but is not in fact Australian) who attempts to colonize the newly immigrated Jokic family

2. Coetzee is neither Paul nor Costello; however i'd more closely identify him with Paul on the basis that he is a man; let's take Paul to be a man, not Coetezee, but just a man. that is all he is claiming to be at the end of the book; Costello is finally Paul's critic, and she is a female critic; she represents the voices of Coetzee's female critics - those who would speak out against his unfortunate passion for his nurse, a younger, happily married Croatian woman. his successful visit to the Jokic's where he receives his remodeled bike is facilitated by Costello; when they deliver it to him at some point in the not written future, she will not be there to ease the encounter; she won't be there because Paul has rejected her; he is not attracted to her; he is a man who is in love with a younger, married woman; he is a man with financial means; this story is not unfamiliar, it is a cliche & it happens everyday. but neither can he run off with with Costello & enter into her fantasy: the two of them living together in Melbourne. i would not want to reduce each character to their gender, but ultimately, this is a story about a man and a woman. Costello could not possibly write Paul's story: she thinks and acts like a woman, like her specific self and he like himself. Costello, being the most Austrailian of the characters, attempts to colonize Paul - to write his story through her urgings - she somewhat but does not ultimately succeed. and there is a hierarchy: Paul's attempt to colozine the Jokic's (see point #1) is equally unsuccessful. these two solitary characters, both in their twilight years, one a man, the other a woman, end up parting ways. each struggles to colonize the Other, and fails, in the end, to do so.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The road to recovery, 18 Dec 2006
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
The slow man of Coetzee's novel is Paul Rayment, who in the opening pages we encounter flying through the air having been knocked off his cycle by a young motorist. The story then follows Paul's recovery from the accident, as a consequence of which his freedom is severely restricted. When he goes home having been released from hospital he is allocated care nurses and it his relationship with one of these nurses, her family, and the mysteriously appearing Elizabeth Costello that form the central theme.
Sixty plus year old retired photographer Paul is divorced, and is not a man without needs, the need for love and sexual fulfilment. He falls for one of his nurses, Croatian born Marijana Kokic, a robust and capable woman who comes across, perhaps as much because English is not her first language, as a little abrupt, yet very thorough and caring. Paul also becomes involved with Marijana's entire family, and especially Mariajna's sixteen year old son Drago, handsome, confident, charming and polite.
The elderly novelist Elizabeth Costello makes a sudden appearance as if from nowhere and imposes herself upon Paul, and she then becomes a constant feature for the duration, acting it seems as Paul's conscience (for a short while one wonders if she is real or if she exists only in Paul's mind). What is her motive, she appears to be very knowledgeable about Paul and the Kokics, but is her interest purely altruistic? Paul's relationship with Elizabeth wavers from loathing to tolerance, and maybe more.
This is a most endearing story; it is easy to see how Paul becomes infatuated with Marijana, who is fazed by none of the very personal and intimate care she has to provide. Paul's relationship with young Drago is touching; he clearly cares very much for the boy and is prepared to demonstrate that in generous practical ways. This is an interesting and unpredictable story, with a gratifying surprise towards the end.
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24 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, 21 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Slow Man (Hardcover)
Coetzee is not the first novelist to concern himself with the ethics of fiction, but he is, arguably, the most aesthetically successful and formally daring. Slow Man is not, perhaps, for the average reader--not even the average reader of literary fiction--but it will reward those familiar with the totality of Coetzee's oeuvre in unexpected and fantastic ways. He is indisputably the greatest living writer in English.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a man guided by passion, 31 Jan 2007
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
Is the hero a positive or negative character in a novel? Mr Coetzee doesn't really seem to care by choosing Paul Rayment, the main character in Slow Man, a bland man for a novelist. He is a former photographer in Adelaide, he is divorced without children and rather old fashioned with the habits of a typical bachelor.

After a bicycle accident which leads to the amputation of one of his legs he becomes infatuated with his Croatian nurse Marijana. Are such events likely to turn Paul Rayment into a hero? Probably not. But in the hands of a writer like J.-M. Coetzee they certainly are. It is the writer's skill to create a novel on the basis of the most banal events. It is the faculty to cast a particular glance on things and events which introduces depth into banality of everyday events.

It all starts with the apparitions of Elizabeth Costello in the life of Paul Rayment: a respected and intelligent author if a little moralizing at times who wishes to make him one of his characters in her novel, an idea Paul vehemently opposes. Using this strange situation Coetzee poses the question of convention: who is whose character? How does a plot arise? What right do authors have to impart emotions on people other than themselves? But the discussion of these issues doesn't prevent Slow Man from being a true work of fiction with characters adorned with remarkable personalities. This is due to the fact that they are drawn from two sides: from the exterior, in an apparently indifferent way, and from within with their most intimate preoccupations.

Ultimately the question of literary creation leads to another question in this novel in which there is a lot of reflecting on life and death: are we God's characters as much as Paul Rayment and Eliyabeth Costello and others are the novelist's characters?
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, 21 Nov 2006
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
Was more than happy with this one. 'Slow Man' was my first experience of Coetzee and certainly will not be my last. Coetzee seems to have a very distinguished style of writing very much different to others I have read. It's almost a 'waltz' as the story glides along. This particular book contains great narrative to the first degree with added hints of suspense to many situations. I feel this book has the perfect balance of plot, narrative, emotion and the right delivery in the number and nature of its characters.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gradually grew on me, 8 Aug 2006
By 
M. K. Enhorning (The world as we know it) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Man (Paperback)
It took me a while to get into "Slow Man" mainly because I was triggered to read it when finishing "Disgrace", and at first SM wasn't quite up to par. Or perhaps I was still in post-Disgrace, not being fair to this work. However, it did get to me the second time I picked it up, and I'm glad I did. If you liked the pace in this book - pick up "Interpreter of maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri, I think you'll enjoy it.
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Slow Man
Slow Man by J M Coetzee (Paperback - 7 Sep 2006)
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