Mar 14, 09
Recommended to C. by:
Most of goodreads
Read in March, 2009, read count: 1
The prose was detached and lifeless, as I have come to expect from Coetzee. Which leaves you cold and alone. In the rain, outside on the deserted street gazing at the lighted windows of the stalinesque apartment buildings across the road. And inside you there's this dull ache of hollowness that is where the prose would be if it was there. And because you are so empty there is a sort of lack that swells and swells until it fills you whole and spills over into your thoughts and your actions. And this is depression and as you read it emanates from your very pores until you and the book are enveloped in it like a halo of light the colour of the outside of the universe.
So that was good. I always like a book that makes me feel that way. Because here is a man who is alone, more alone than I have ever been and no one cares. Because here's the thing. I have a family and I have friends and if somehing happens to me they care. And I have this government that would give me money if I had none. And when I was sick I got the best medical care around, and it was free, because there's this attitude here that I matter and that everyone matters enough to deserve the same. And then there is Michael K, who doesn't matter to anyone, and all he wants to do is be left alone, but the establishment can't even do that. They have to take him and do things to him even though he can be of no conceivable use to them or anyone else. And he turns away from anyone who could help him and who wants to help him. And that was really good. By which I mean it was brilliantly portrayed and hopelessly moving.
But then we get to part the third and suddenly the thing turns into this pathetic Coelho-esque excuse for a book. And it's full of patronising, pseudo-philosophical drivel that doesn't mean a thing. And the prose loses its beautiful detachment and becomes airy and pretty and floaty and suddenly I'm not liking it nearly so much any more. So I give it five stars for the first part and two point five for the last part, which I somehow average out to make four.
No, I probably shouldn't have borrowed this. But I just joined a new library today and it was sitting there, looking so small and cute and just crying out to be taken to a good home! And it's thin, right, and I can keep it for three whole weeks, right, so I should have plenty of time to read a maths textbook, right, finish off my modern and contemporary literature booklist and read me some Brigade Mondaine before school starts next Monday, right? Right.
And I really would have liked to have joined in the Coetzee-fest when it was actually on. But at that time I had self-discipline. And there were no Coetzee books in the public library.