Slow Man Paperback – 7 Sep 2006
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"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)
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.See all Product description
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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.
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.
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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