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J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-face with Time
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J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-face with Time

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  38 ratings  ·  10 reviews
A moving, insightful biography of the Nobel Laureate and a study of J. M. Coetzee’s work, illuminating the creation of his exceptional novels
J. M. Coetzee is one of the world’s most intriguing authors. Compelling, razor-sharp, erudite: the adjectives pile up but the heart of the fiction remains elusive. Now, in J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing, David Attwell explores
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Viking (first published August 26th 2015)
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here is a comprehensive review by john pistelli who has thought greatly about coetzee and seems more than qualified to speak on this book

unlike me, i've only read a couple of his novels, and coetzee / auster correspondence book.
but i loved how attwell wrote about the novelist's process of creating his fiction and how it changed through revision and how coetzee is very concerned with realism, with metafiction, with modernism and with his life in south afri
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the best books I've read on the creative process, notably the revision revision revision stage.

Coetzee's prose is so lucid and terse, as if there's no excess, as if his novels and essays could not be written any other way. And yet Attwell dives into his drafts (available at UTexas) and shows how Coetzee evolves stories from ideas to first goes to manipulations of characters and plots to the final product. Attwell reveals how uncertain Coetzee is most of the time in his decisions, shows wh
John Pistelli
David Attwell’s book is billed as a “literary biography,” presumably so as not to scare off the common reader, for whom it seems to be intended. But it is more like a critical study of Coetzee’s writing, organized more thematically than chronologically, and informed by Coetzee’s archival materials at the University of Texas at Austin. If Attwell has a thesis, it is twofold: 1. that Coetzee, based on his voluminous drafts and notebooks, is committed to the process of finding a form for his fictio ...more
Rian Nejar
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
A detailed, illuminating biography of J. M. Coetzee, a writer and Nobel laureate, and a thorough documentation of motivations, influences, and the writing process followed in his many acclaimed works.

A sense of self-delusion is revealed in the subject writer's thoughts about his creations: whereas the writer asserts, as conveyed by the biographer, that the process of creation involves an impression of one's self upon the art and an erasure of this impression in completing the work, in congruenc
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
It would help the reader of this book if they'd read some of Coetzee's work. I haven't, though perhaps after finishing this book I may do.
I found the first five chapters of the book hard going. It seemed more academic in tone than I was keen to engage with, and I didn't warm to Coetzee himself much. (Not that this changed through the book; he comes across to me as a fairly cold person, though his books may belie that).
From chapter six on, Attwell makes increasing use of the notes and diaries t
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An interesting, fairly academic read about Coetzee's writing process. Also you gain some detail of Coetzee's life, his relationship with his parents, his love of the Karoo landscape, being an Afrikaner, his family's South African settlement history and it's influence on him, his European cultural connections, his academic involvement in apartheid censorship, his grappling with living in South Africa and his decision to live in Australia and how important other fictional works were in ...more
John Vanderslice
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I will be publishing a review of this book later in 2017 in the Pleiades Book Review.
Lukasz Pruski
Apr 14, 2016 rated it liked it
"Coetzee famously says, 'all writing is autobiography' and 'all autobiography is storytelling'."

I got hooked on John Maxwell Coetzee about three years ago when my wife's book club was reading Disgrace. I was completely stunned by the power of the novel and by the unbelievably precise prose. Disgrace is certainly is among the very few best books I have ever read. Since then, my count of Coetzee's books has reached 18, including his non-fiction works of literary criticism; all my 18 reviews are p
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i finally finished this book! It was worth it. There are places where the author gets wrapped up in the ouevre rather than making the point clear, but I've been fascinated by Coetzee since living in South Africa, and reading his novel, "Disgrace." He holds possibly the most prominent and important place in South African literature, second only to Alan Paton and Nadine Gortimer. Great insights to the three periods of Coetzee's writing life.
Apr 24, 2016 marked it as to-buy-find
Read an excellent article about this on the LA review of books.
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