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Slow Man Paperback – 7 Sep 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099490625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099490623
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 280,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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)

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.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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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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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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By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 May 2007
Format: Paperback
The book hits you hard on the first pages: a sixty-year old man, Paul Rayment, is knocked off his bicycle in a road accident in Adelaide, and has to have a leg amputated. In hospital and back at home he suffers from post-operative indignities, and from depression, his reactions wincingly and bleakly described. He resents his nurses, his social worker and his physiotherapist: at their best, he feels, he is only another case for them; at their worst they talk to him as if he were a child. He becomes more acutely aware than he has ever been before of his loneliness: part of his depression is due to the fact that he has no wife (he divorced many years ago) and no children. He becomes increasingly tetchy in what he says, but even then he keeps much of what he thinks (represented in italics) to himself.

Then he gets a sturdy Croatian-born home nurse, Marijana, who knows intuitively how to look after him without infantilizing him, and he comes to love her. She is a married woman with three children, the eldest, Drago, an attractive 16 year-old boy. Paul does not have, but would love to have, a sexual relationship with her; meanwhile he wants to help her by being a surrogate father to Drago and by paying his fees to go to college.

And then suddenly, a third of the way through the book, this very realistic account suddenly shifts gear. Out of the blue Paul is visited by one Elizabeth Costello, who, we are told, is a well-known Australian novelist. Perhaps there really was a novelist called Elizabeth Costello - but (to me at least) it is clear from her first appearance that the Elizabeth in this story is not a real person at all, but is Paul's inner voice: clearly the italicized inner voice is no longer sufficient.
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Format: Paperback
Cycling one day, Paul Rayment is hit by a careless young driver and after he `flew through the air with the greatest of ease' finds his body maimed and his mind mired in the quicksand of regret. Nothing can lift his spirits until he employs a Croatian nurse and falls (absurdly) in love. When he succumbs to the myth that speaking ones love will transform his life, he finds himself leeching onto her surrogate family in the hope of rectifying his regrets. But when an elderly writer arrives to cast him as a character in her latest novel he is forced to listen to his conscience and analyse what is left of his disfigured life.

Coetzee loves getting into the minds of cantankerous old men whose staunch opposition to the mindset of the time leaves them adrift in a world they no longer see as their own. This is a typical Coetzee novel, full of his incisive analysis and evocative language; a good book, well worth reading.
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