Thursday, March 02, 2006

Coetzee Coetzee Coo!

Dude's a fucking genius. He turns a clever constraint--a young woman in search of her daughter in the colonies gets diverted to Brazil and ends up shipwrecked on the same island as Caruso and Friday, surviving to bring their story back to Daniel DeFoe--into a magnificent meditation on language, story, self, character, authorial consciousness, the boundaries between the Real and Fiction, Truth and Lies, master and slave, symbol and symbolized...

Coetzee manages to write extraordinarily complicated little books that aren't extraordinarily complex. This is somehow a simple novel, and engages the reader as swiftly and totally as the adventure yarn which inspired it. And yet at the same time it's encyclopedic in its reach--so long as you're paying attention.

J.M. Coetzee is a clever, clever man. I read a few of his novels in grad school and then swore off him for a decade because he makes my head explode. Only in the best way, of course. An excellent novel.

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