Caitie's Reviews > Slow Man

Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee
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's review
Oct 10, 2009

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bookshelves: writing

** spoiler alert ** I've listed this under the "writing" category because the main character is forced to write his own life, and the process he goes through mirrors the way that fiction is actually written. Elizabeth Costello shows up at his door one day and forces her omniscience on him, to help him write the story. So, the author is writing the book, and within it, the main character is writing the book too, with the help of Elizabeth Costello. He's living his life, and she's forcing him to think about it as though it were a story being told on the page--which it is. It kind of makes your head want to explode.

The big problem in the novel is that the main character wants to have an affair with his nurse. He's single and she is happily married with children, so she's just not interested. Her whole family gets drawn into this problem.

Here's an example of the stuff Elizabeth Costello says (this is also my favorite part of the novel):
"You tell us you in truth not having an affair with Drago's mother because you and she have not in truth (excuse me, Drago) had sexual intercourse. But what counts as sexual intercourse nowadays? And how do we weigh a quick deed in a dark corner against months of fevered longing? When love is the subject, how can an outside observer ever be sure of the truth of what has gone on?" (136).

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