Friday, November 03, 2006

Slow Man

Over the last ten days, I completed Slow Man, a novel by Nobel laureate from South Africa, J M Coetzee.

As the name suggests, it is a slow book. A story of a slow, sixty year old man Paul Rayment, who is leading a comfortable, single life. A terrible accident while riding his bicycle costs him his right leg. This makes this lonely man even more lonely. He longs for a family of his own and more so, for a son. He seems to have found his love in his caring nurse and her children, just when his feelings for her and her family bring in more complications in his life, enter Elizabet Costello. A novelist by profession (and hobby) she soon starts (almost) controlling his life. Well, slowly.

'PR Express,' says Ljuba. 'What does PR Express mean?'

And indeed, that is what is painted on the tubing of the tricycle, in lettering that artfully suggests the rush of wind. PR Express.

'It means I can go very fast,' he says. 'PR the rocket man.'

'Rocket man,' says Ljuba. She gives him a smile, then first she has ever given.

'You aren't Rocket Man, you're Slow Man!'
Then she breaks into giggles, and embraces her mother's thighs, and hides her face.

J M CoetzeeIt is an interesting read. At times I felt, there is not much story, but too many thoughts. Complex emotions and the constant, slow thinking going on the PR's mind is what the novel is all about. It is a very different kind of a novel. There are fast paced, page turners, unputdownables. This book, on the contrary, slowly grows on you. It takes the required time to paint the character of PR in the reader's mind. For that matter, everyone's character has been built in that fashion.

Slow Man is the first novel by J M Coetzee that I read. And first impressions are very important as far as reading habit goes. This Nobel Laureate has made a very good impression, and I am looking forward to another book by him. Maybe Elizabeth Costello.

Some of the reviews:| New York Times | The Independent

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