About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

#65 - Summertime

Moving right along, #65 was Summertime, by J. M. Coetzee (New York: Viking, 2009).

Summary: "In the Nobel Laureate's latest novel, a young English writer is in pursuit of first-person testimony to write a biography of an esteemed novelist named J. M. Coetzee. The Englishman wants to focus on the years 1971-77, a period just before Coetzee's importance was recognized, a time the hopeful biographer finds oddly neglected by other biographers; he sees it as seminal because the novelist was finding his feet. From Coetzee's lover, his cousin, the mother of a pupil to whom Coetzee gave English lessons, a cohort who co-taught a college course with him, and another professional affiliate, the biographer elicits details about the man's relationships, amorous and otherwise. These personal accounts are the material from which readers draw a picture of Coetzee and upon which the writer will draw for his future composition. The Coetzee emerging here is an emotionally dessicated man never easy with intercourse of any shade, sexual or social. Assumptions on the reader's part of a parallel between the fictitious Coetzee and the actual one are best left alone, because the result can only be confusion and distraction. It is best, then, to simply see the character as just that and then to recognize the author of the admirable builder of character that he is." (-Brad Hooper, Booklist)

My take: Probably would have been more compelling if I were familiar either with Coetzee's other work or with the Afrikaans experience in South Africa, but this is nonetheless an interesting format for a story and, gradually, one through with a fascinating if less-than-likable portrait of a character emerges.

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