Roger DeBlanck's Reviews > Diary of a Bad Year
Diary of a Bad Year
This work of “fiction” from the great J.M. Coetzee has little to offer admirers of his previous work. Flat, trite, and self-aggrandizing, Diary of a Bad Year feigns to include a story within the ramblings and rants of the main character, Señor C, a seventy-year old recluse writer, who has been asked to submit “strong opinions” to his German publisher for an upcoming book of essays. The pages of Diary of a Bad Year are divided into thirds. The top of each page starts with one of the opinions/essays, where Señor C, who serves as Coetzee’s mouthpiece, spins out circuitous philosophies about government and vitriolic criticisms against Bush, Cheney, and Blair. The second section of each page supposedly narrates the story of C’s infatuation with a gorgeous young woman, Anya, whom he hires to type his essays. The third part of each page recounts Anya’s interactions with the ailing C and her rocky relationship with her boyfriend, Alan, who wants to extort money from the old man. Both the second and third parts are glaringly undeveloped and mostly uninteresting, and the section of “opinions” do not deliver any great depth. This is a disappointing work from one of the world’s most revered literary craftsmen. From the mind who gave readers such engrossing works as Life and Times of Michael K, The Age of Iron, The Master of Petersburg, and Disgrace, Coetzee’s lackluster Diary of a Bad Year does not seem to belong in his oeuvre. Coetzee admirers can only hope he finds the need to create a more imaginative work of fiction, worthy of the literary stature that deservedly earned him the Nobel Prize in 2003.
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