Magdelanye's Reviews > Summertime

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
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Jun 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: re-reads, postmodern-fiction, autobiographical-fiction
Read from June 22 to 24, 2011

This curious, sly and rather ruthless quasi-autobiography is the 3rd volume of Scenes From a Provincial life. The purist in me almost put it away, for I have not read these. But it was the first day after the summer solstice, and that little synchronicity nailed it. I went ahead and immediately was pulled in to South Africa, the dusty streets,the random violence,the winding down of a rotten system and Nelson Mandela still in prison.

But this is not a straightforward story to illustrate the great conflicts of the day, although they are referred to and the moral dilemma of the white natives is clearly explicated, the focus is the questionable character of the author himself and consists in the main of a series of interiews with the enigmatic, quintessential listener, the biographer.

It seems that Coetzee is aiming to get at the quintessential truth of himself by creating the macabre fiction that he is already dead and his biographer is attempting to achieve a coherent perspective from the handful of people that Coetzee revealed in his journals that had the greatest impact on his life. That he could project such indifference and scorn on himself is truly heartbreaking.The irony is, his claim to mediocrity is proved false by his cleverness and his tremendous list of titles.

I enjoyed reading this book and like the spare and eloquent writing. According to GR star system, I am able to give it only a 3.

September 2015
when I picked up this book at the library, I had a faint feeling that I had read it before, the cover seemed so familiar. Reading a bit sparked no recognition however, and in the mood for Coetzee's spare prose I took it home and began to read. To my mortification, I remembered the premise but none of the characters, and when I entered the book here there was my review.
I have given it an extra star and a more thorough reading.
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Reading Progress

06/22/2011 page 85
38.0% "A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us. What else shoul it be? p61"
06/24/2011 page 266
100.0% "...we are all a little desperate, that is life. If you are strong, you conquer the despair. p196"
09/17/2015 marked as: currently-reading
09/19/2015 marked as: read
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Magdelanye of course we are all fictioneers...p226

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