I was looking for something to read last night and found just-won-the-Nobel-prize J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace on my roommate’s shelf, which was a bit of a surprise since Stephen “The Apostate” Slater isn’t known to be up on contemporary lit.
I've started to read it, and am probably going to grab a few of his other books (maybe Life and Times of Michael K) and write a review of Coetzee for the newspaper. He’s won a bunch of awards and all kinds of accolades but with my look (80 pages) I haven’t been that that impressed. I’d depict him as letting the story roll unbidden on the blank page, i.e., I don’t particularly find myself impressed by his use of the language and am suspicious he’s just a deeper version of the pulp hack.
But that’s just a first glance and maybe his liking for the present tense (This is where he ought to end it. But he does not. On Sunday morning he drives to the campus...) is throwing my balance.
Related to his accolades, I’m not sure how impressive it is to be “the best living writer” or the “best of his generation.” It seems a little too placed; a little too temporary for greatness. Perhaps this is just a question of being defined by his generation or defining his generation, seeing as the former is especially conservative and accepting of the field as it has been imparted.
But then I’ve always been a sucker for the ambitious writer.
Update: I've picked up Life and Times of Michael K and Waiting for the Barbarians.