Slow Man, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (5 ratings)

Description

Paul Rayment is on the threshold of a comfortable old age when a calamitous cycling accident results in the amputation of a leg.

Humiliated, his body truncated, his life circumscribed, he turns away from his friends.

He hires a nurse named Marijana, with whom he has a European childhood in common: hers in Croatia, his in France.

Tactfully and efficiently she ministers to his needs.

But his feelings for her, and for her handsome teenage son, are complicated by the sudden arrival on his doorstep of the celebrated Australian novelist Elizabeth Costello, who threatens to take over the direction of his life and the affairs of his heart.

Information

£8.99

£6.65

 
Free Home Delivery

on all orders

 
Pick up orders

from local bookshops

Reviews

Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by
3.5

This brief novel was a challenging one thematically, and I'm not so sure that I fully understood it, but I'll give it a try. Slow Man is the story of Paul Rayment, an older gentleman, who is hit by a car while riding his bicycle, resulting in the amputatation of his leg. He decides not to get a prosthesis, returning to his apartment and hiring a nurse, Marijana, instead. He eventually develops deep feelings for his nurse, and the majority of the plot centers around this fact and the effect that his love has on her relationships with her husband and children. Enter Elizabeth Costello. This is where I got confused with the story. Elizabeth, a writer, who Paul does not know, shows up on his doorstep and asks to move in, which Paul allows. During her stay, she provides constant commentary on Paul's life and decision making, and she even predicts his future actions. I have two different theories regarding the character of Elizabeth. The first, and probably most likely, is that she is the only "live" character in the novel, and that Paul's story is actually the plot of her current book project. The second theory is that Elizabeth is Paul's imaginary muse, though I find this more difficult to accept, since she is referenced by other characters in the book. This was my first experience with Coetzee, and it was quite intriguing, leaving me with a desire to read more from him. However my confusion with the interpretation of the story left me frustrated.

Review by
4.5

Will I remember the plot, the details, the characters of this wonderful novel? Only vaguely - but more more likely will I remember the feeling I had when reading it. Coetzee is an extraordinary writer. I rarely want to reread books, but with his novels I might make an exception. Slow man starts out as a straight story about a man who has a mishap, and must as a consequence amputate his legs. He falls in - a sort of - love for his Croatian nurse, but there ends a straight and predictable narrative. From there on Coetzee is taking us for a ride, forcing us to think, not only read. He is pushing the boundaries of what a novel, a story, is. Is it real og is it Memorex? I don't know nor care. Instead I think about our existence, what role we may want to play in our own lives and in other people's lives, what is important and what is immaterial. What more can a novel do for you?

Review by
3

We meet the main character, Paul Rayment, moments after he has been struck by a car. He soars through the air, planning to tuck and roll and hoping that no one steals his bicycle in the meantime. He wakes up in a hospital. Most of his right leg is gone. They were unable to save the knee.About a third of the way into this novel, the author introduces another character, Elizabeth. Her appearance is so unexpected, and so unlikely, that I started to wonder if I was reading science fiction. No lie. In the end, I suppose I'll settle for calling it magical realism, which is not my favorite genre (or style or whatever), and which definitely doesn't fit the first 100 pages, which deal with the immediate aftermath of the accident and amputation.My skepticism aside, there are some extremely quotable bits, among them:* He has -- what? A flat full of books and furniture. A collection of photographs, images of the dead, which after his own death will gather dust in the basement of a library along with other minor bequests more trouble to the cataloguers than they are worth. * I can pass among Australians. I cannot pass among the French. That, as far as I am concerned, is all there is to it, to the national-identity business: where one passes and where one does not.* Of course you may love whom you choose. But maybe from now on you should keep your love to yourself, as one keeps a head cold to oneself, or an attack of herpes, out of consideration for one's neighbours.* Become major, Paul. Live like a hero. This is what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?P.S. I remembered why I added this to my queue... I liked <i>Out Stealing Horses</i> so much that I wanted to see what other books were shortlisted the same year it won the IMPAC award. So far, I think the judges made the right call.

Review by
5

This is an odd little book, no question.<br/><br/>Paul Rayment suffers a terrible accident whilst cycling along the road in Adelaide, Australia. And falls in love with his caretaker. That's where the book takes the unexpected turn. Delving into the borderline between author and subject, between the writer and their characters, Slow Man bends the space-time of the concept of the novel further than most can without breaking the forth wall of the action entirely. <br/><br/>I enjoyed this book, although I could easily see where it would flummox people quite easily. What helps (or perhaps hurts) is that Coetzee's ability to toss off amazing sections of prose keeps us in the dark so well about the nature of the book. A lessor writer would be seen through at once, and the reader would be able to experience the book knowing full well the ground they stand upon. Coetzee, on the other hand, masterfully keeps us mired in shifting sands, forcing the reader to continually reassess and wonder any number of questions including even whether or not the protagonist in fact died in the accident, or whether or not he even exists outside someone else's imagination. Hardly anything is simple, or as it seems, or perhaps it is. Coetzee might not satisfy you, but he's well worth reading. This little book is no exception.

Review by
5

This is an odd little book, no question.<br/><br/>Paul Rayment suffers a terrible accident whilst cycling along the road in Adelaide, Australia. And falls in love with his caretaker. That's where the book takes the unexpected turn. Delving into the borderline between author and subject, between the writer and their characters, Slow Man bends the space-time of the concept of the novel further than most can without breaking the forth wall of the action entirely. <br/><br/>I enjoyed this book, although I could easily see where it would flummox people quite easily. What helps (or perhaps hurts) is that Coetzee's ability to toss off amazing sections of prose keeps us in the dark so well about the nature of the book. A lessor writer would be seen through at once, and the reader would be able to experience the book knowing full well the ground they stand upon. Coetzee, on the other hand, masterfully keeps us mired in shifting sands, forcing the reader to continually reassess and wonder any number of questions including even whether or not the protagonist in fact died in the accident, or whether or not he even exists outside someone else's imagination. Hardly anything is simple, or as it seems, or perhaps it is. Coetzee might not satisfy you, but he's well worth reading. This little book is no exception.

Also by J. M. Coetzee   |  View all