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Boyhood: Scenes from provincial life: A Memoir Paperback – 6 Aug 1998
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"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)
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.See all Product description
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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.
It is split into two novellas which, although set in different countries and different periods of history, have many similarities. This is particularly apparent in the way the central characters are driven first to madness, then to perverse acts of violence, towards those supposedly close to them.
Coetzee's prose style in this, his first book, is as sparse as in his later work. The second narrative in particular contains some staggering feats of description and the clarity with which the author illustrates the decline of the Boer frontiersman through illness is exhilarating.
This is not an easy book to pick up and dip into. It demands a lot from the reader, it is at times disorientating and, by the end, it offers few firm conclusions about the issues it tackles. However, it should be required reading for anyone who enjoyed any of Coetzee's more popular later novels.
Very real, very true and very touching. This book has melted my heart...
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good descriptions. Works the imagination