Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee

December 5th, 2010

On a cold snowy, icy day at the 'Salon du Livre' in Colmar I stumbled upon Summertime by J.M. Coetzee. I have read Disgrace and several books of his essay's about literature and have been intrigued by Coetzee as a writer. So Summertime was meant to warm my chilly winter evenings. two nights was what it took to be warmed once again to this writer. The plot seems funny: a young English biographer wants to write a biography of late Mr. Coetzee and he searches out 5 respondents who knew him in the 1970's the formative basic years for his writing. So through 'conversations and interviews' and 'proofreading' of the transcription of the interview, Coetzee manages to weave in a lot nuance and possibilities. He draws a picture of himself as awkward, extremely insecure and socially incompetent, without a hair of sexual air about him. It made me smile, made me think about South Africa and the changes that took place and how estranged and alienated I felt when visiting the country because of work. And I recognize the question  that is asked in the book how to define where one stands politically or ethically. His teetering between radical (exemplified by doing his manual labor himself, although is inept at it, in order not to exploit a black person and feeling 'Afrikaander' because nobody claims what went on before and without Afrikaanders there would be no guilt, which he assumes. So J.M. Coetzee, thanks for another book and a lesson in letting go of taking oneself too seriously. Friends, read the book!

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Categories: Coetzee, literature, novel, reading notes, South Afrika, truth

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