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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee 
28th-Sep-2006 04:33 pm
Pretty slow-going stuff, if you ask me... (^^;

Coetzee, J. M. Life & Times of Michael K. New York: Viking, 1984.
Summary: After losing his job as a gardener in Cape Town amidst war unrest, Michael K promise to take his ailing mother back home to Prince Albert. Unfortunately, she dies along the way, and Michael finds himself alternately living off the land and being forced into labor camps. After one last chance at rehabilitation, he escapes again and returns to Cape Town, finding a measure of freedom there.
Comments: After Foe and its fascinating post-modernist philosophical maunderings, don't know what I was expecting in this novel, but I must say that I was somewhat disappointed. Given that I know next to nothing about South Africa and its history, much of the atmosphere and socio-political implications of the story were lost to me; I didn't even know whether Michael was black or not, though sometimes I thought perhaps maybe so. Clearly, Coetzee has a thing for Robinson Crusoe because I find Defoe's book mirrored here as well; Michael comes of age living alone in profound connection with the land itself...and then he goes home. Man (not woman) all alone and self-sufficient is a popular male fantasy, yet, as Michael is not necessarily someone you'd personally want to be, I'm not sure what sort of point the author is trying to make by using it. Maybe he's just trying to remind people what, in his opinion at least, should be important.
Notes: hardcover, 1st American edition (library book)
Rating: 5/10 - The Bottom Line: You have to understand South African history.
1st-Oct-2006 03:30 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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