rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sixty-something Paul Rayment is a photographer who is hit by a car one day while out riding his bicycle. The collision shatters his leg and the doctors amputate it near the knee. Paul refuses a prosthesis. He finds himself feeling hopeless and isolated.
A circumscribed life. What would Socrates say about that? May a life become so circumscribed that it is no longer worth living? Men come out of prison, out of years of staring at the same blank wall, without gloom taking possession of their souls. What is so special about losing a limb? A giraffe that loses a leg will surely perish; but giraffes do not have the agencies of the modern state, embodied in Mrs. Putts, watching over their welfare. Why should he not settle for a modestly circumscribed life in a city that is not inhospitable to the frail aged.
Paul who used to pride himself on his independence now finds himself having to depend on others. Two people he develops relationships with are Marijana, his Croatian nurse, and Elizabeth Costello, an author who mysteriously shows up at his door one day. Paul proclaims his love for Marijana and Elizabeth tries to push him to take a hold of his life and do something.
Slow Man is the third Coetzee novel that I have read…and that man can write! All of his novels cause you to think about their central themes long after you put the book down. Slow Man, like his other novels. has a darker set of themes: loneliness, isolation from others (both emotional and physical), and hopelessness. Paul is a stubborn man who refuses to try to rebuild his life…instead he just wallows in his own loneliness and laments over his fate. Paul’s plight caused me to think about making each day count and developping deep meaningful relationships with people. The book also has hints of meta-fiction, which is almost always a plus as far as I am concerned.