Wednesday, 3 February 2010

My Thoughts: Summertime by J.M Coetzee


Summertime is the third in a series by Coetzee, wheich I didn't realise when I first agreed to read this book. Summertime is a novel in which a biographer is collecting notes and interviewing people in order to write a biography of the dead John Coetzee. A strange scenario from the beginning.
Coetzee the character is a novelist who found fame late in life. This novel looks at a period in his life just before he became successful. His cousin, lovers and an acquaintance are interviewed about him, in some cases what is presented is more a story of the interviewed than of him. What we do learn is that he was a cold man, hard to love and unemotional, yet seemingly always embroilled in an affair of some sort. He teaches, yet doesn't enjoy teaching and he writes with almost a desperation.

I was surprised at how easy this was to read. The interviews I really enjoyed, but I lost interest in the last 20 pages when we are given snippets from his notebook in which he writes about himself in the third person. By then I felt enough was enough.
An biography about a character with your name who wrote the books which you have published is a strange old concept to take in, but he seems to pull it off.

1 comment:

C.B. James said...

That is an intriquing idea for a novel. I loved his book Disgrace but I've had a hard time getting into his work since. I may give this one a go.