Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Summertime - J M Coetzee

Picked this on a's reco, and quite liked it.

A biographer is writing a book about a famous author, and is covering a period of time where the author was  living in obscurity. Summertime is written like the draft notes for the biography. The first section has notes from the famous authors old diaries. Then there are interviews with women who knew him during that time.

How do we make our conclusions about a person? How do our views of him change as we move from one narrative to another? Does our view of him change as we read his diary, and then hear from his lover who is rather dismissive of him ? Are we then forced to reconsider as we hear from someone who almost accuses him of stalking her and her daughter? Is the vehemence of her narrative countered by the more tender account from his cousin, whose affection for him, is nevertheless at odds with the instances she narrates.

It gets even more interesting, since the author in question here is also named Coetzee and the lines between a an autobiography and fiction blur. That part makes it even more fascinating.

Loved it overall.


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