Why does love, even such love as he claims to practise, need the spectacle of beauty to bring it to life? -From Slow Man, page 149-
This was my first Coetzee novel, and it will not be my last. In Slow Man, Coetzee tells the story of Paul Rayment, an older man who loses his leg in a freak bicycle accident and must decide the path of his life following this devastating event. Paul is a man who has lived a relatively solitary life and regrets his lack of children. He gave up his career as a photographer when colour replaced black and white and digital imagery replaced light-sensitive emulsions because ‘…to the rising generation the enchantment lay in the techne of images without substance, images that could flash throught he ether without resideing anywhere, that could be sucked into a machine and emerge from it doctored, untrue.‘ (From Slow Man, page 65).
As the reader meets the other characters (Marijana, Marianna, Drago, and the bold Elizabeth Costello) she is treated to a literary puzzle about love, loss and mortality. Coetzee engages the reader with sharp dialogue and an edgy wit. He plays with the meaning of words and names – which had me re-reading passages and marking pages for later contemplation.
Slow Man is a demanding novel despite it’s brevity. At times it is difficult to know which character and whose story can be trusted. Perhaps this idea is best captured as Paul ruminates about his career as a photographer:
He tends to trust pictures more than he trusts words. Not because pictures cannot lie but because, once they leave the darkroom, they are fixed, immutable. Whereas stories – the story of the needle in the bloodstream, for instance, or the story of how he and Wayne Blight came to meet on Magill Road – seem to change shape all the time. -From Slow Man, page 64-
I cannot say more about this novel without giving away important plot points – and so, I will simply recommend that readers read Coetzee’s book for themselves.
June 7, 2007
This morning the world lost a bright and shining light. Natalie lost her battle with cancer.
It is hard to understand why a person with so much to live for would be taken from us so quickly. My heart hurts. I think of those she has left behind and my grief and tears are for them – not Nattie, who I know is with God now – but for her children, her parents, and her friends who will have to live their lives here on earth without her. There are very few people who can reach across cyberspace and move another’s heart as Nattie did. Even as she lay in a hospital bed, battling for her life, she thought of others – dictating words for her daddy to write on her blog to sooth and update her many friends.
She was special.
And she will be missed.
There are times when a person touches one’s heart – it’s inexplicable – but there you have it. A fellow blogger and a member of some of my Yahoo book groups (including my group – ANovelChallenge) is battling cancer. I don’t know why Nattie has touched my heart the way she has, but I feel connected to her. I don’t know Nattie very well. I love reading her blog. I find her wit and her faith uplifting. When I heard she had been diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer, I felt a deep hurt, a kick in the gut, a feeling of disbelief. Nattie is young and has two children. She is determined to fight this cancer.
And so I’m asking people who visit my blog to join Nattie’s friends and family in healing prayers.
Nattie’s daddy is posting updates to her blog, which you can find by clicking on the photolink below.