Monday, May 21, 2012

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee

I guess I'm supposed to know who this writer is since he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2003 but really I don't know, I just happened to pick up the book for some reason and decided to read it on vacation. I wish I could say that I'm up on contemporary fiction but actually I'm not. I remember thinking I should probably be paying attention to small press fiction instead of wasting my time on stuff like this. It wasn't that memorable, other than that it takes place in South Africa and the main character is named after the author. This was kind of pretentious/narcissistic or whatever but also what I liked most about reading the book. It sort of inverts the narrative structure of The Sorrows of Young Werther, in that it tells the story of a man's life from the point of view of three women who are remembering him in terms of their relationship to him. This is what the story is about really. In Werther, Goethe never lets Charlotte act on her own, the reader only knows her through Werther's eyes, but that is not a part of the storytelling I don't think, it just sort of is. Man = actor Women = object that is acted upon, Etc. Using the device Doris Lessing made famous in The Golden Notebook, the reader also reads Coetzee's notebook entries and ends up having to piece together different perspectives to complete the picture.

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