Summertime Paperback – 2 Sep 2010
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"Wonderful stuff. But then, Coetzee is wonderful: edgy, black, remorselessly human, witty, and often outright funny... Summertime is offbeat and deliberate, elusive and truthful" (Irish Times)
"The cumulative effect of Coetzee's unblinking honesty and his never-wavering seriousness is an understanding of the creation of a great writer" (Sunday Telegraph)
"A subtle, allusive meditation: an intriguing map of a weak character's constricted heart struggling against the undertow of suspicion within South Africa's claustrophobic, unpoetic, overtly macho society" (Financial Times)
"A poignant, cubistic portrait...It is not essential, however, that one know anything of Boyhood, Youth, or his other works to appreciate its rich offerings as an imaginatively distorted and distorting portrait of the artist as outsider" (TLS)
"Compelling, funny, moving and full of life" (Observer)
A rich, funny, and deeply affecting autobiographical new novel from one of the world's greatest living writers.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins in a style resembling Boyhood and Youth. Brief scenes from the life of Coetzee, now a thirtysomething in 1970s apartheid South Africa, are narrated in crisp third-person prose. Coetzee, we learn, is a down-and-out, unemployed and living with his elderly father, disgusted by apartheid but stuck in a rut of inaction verging on paralysis. But each scene stops abruptly, clearly unfinished, and after 15 pages the narrative stops altogether. What's going on? Here emerges the book's central conceit: Coetzee has died, leaving behind notebooks of assorted scraps. A would-be biographer, seeking to reconstruct "the story" of Coetzee's life, interviews a number of people who knew Coetzee at that time, and transcripts of these (fictional) interviews occupy most of the book's remainder.
The interviewees give us little vignettes in which Coetzee is a ghostly figure, a barely-there anonynimity, content to be manipulated and exploited by stronger characters: a man defined by his fleeting and unsatisfying connections to others. He is a supporting character.Read more ›
Summertime by J M Coetzee
Summertime (2009) is the third of South African John Coetzee's fictionalised autobiographies following Boyhood (1997) and youth (2002). The inspired novel centres around a young English biographer who is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee, focusing on the years 1972-1977 when Coetzee was in his thirties.
Following the premature end to his six years in America, John returned to South Africa to live in the outskirts of Cape Town with his widowed father. This period is emphasised by the biographer as an era when Coetzee was `finding his feet as a writer'.
Never having met Coetzee, he embarks on an exciting journey of interviewing a number of characters who were physically and emotionally involved with him.
The Coetzee that we are introduced to, through a series of interviews, is lonely and uncomfortable with almost every aspect of his life. Further on in the novel, a more humuorous side is developed as Coetzee becomes sexually involved with a number of female characters. He takes up dancing in attempt to woo a woman, only to make a fool of himself. Coetzee continues to place himself in awkward situations throughout the novel creating an ongoing theme of comedy for the reader to enjoy.
Within the novel, he is regarded with mistrust by his family as he engages in manual labour in penitence for his country's long history of `making other people do our work for us as we sit in the shade and watch'. His love for the Coetzee family estate in the Karoo remains as passionate as ever it was in Boyhood but everywhere else he is lost. South Africa has become a `loud angry place'.Read more ›
John Coetzee (in this incarnation at least) never married. Nor is he deceased in real life. The interviewer is writing an unathorised biography. Who is John Coetzee? Many of the people who discuss him with the interviewer have found him difficult to get close to. There are several undated fragments rounding off the account of his life, and these mainly concentrate on his relationship with his father with whom he has had a somewhat attenuated and uneasy relationship. All of this is utterly fascinating, and none of it comes to a firm conclusion.
This book teases at the truth behind fact, mentioning some of his real life books, such as the Booker winner, 'Disgrace' and the early book 'Boyhood'. But is it a tease, or is it a faithful recounting of a life? If so, it is a life so far, and no further. His sexual life has been varied, but also rather arid, by this account. He does not seem to have had many passions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gotta love Coetzee's writing, even as as he upsets you with his stories.Published 3 months ago by Adeyemi
This is great - a book that to my mind must rank in Coetzee's top 3. Every South African should read it.Published 16 months ago by Dog
J M Coetzee is a must-read. I'm sure he'd hate a review like that in poor English but what they hey.Published on 4 Jun. 2014 by Syd Marland
I didn't rate this as highly as Coetzee's other novels. It is a fine enough work but I was irritated by the supposed writer compiling a biography. Read morePublished on 6 April 2014 by Rosalind Minett
Coetzee enjoys the irony of putting his supposed midlife on the page. The device of the writer aiming to encapsulate the relationships Coetzee experienced for a book did not work... Read morePublished on 5 April 2014 by D.N.Worthington
Not what i expected , it is reading for our book group, bit worried about the sex in it. They said they didn't mind! Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2013 by ann naden
A really brave book. A very difficult concept to make work but Coetzee pulls it off. It the the combination of integrity and Coetzee's skill as a writer that makes this a very... Read morePublished on 30 May 2013 by Simon Rew