Slow Man, like any other Coetzee’s wok is quite distinct and peculiar. The most striking aspect of the book is that the character-Elizabeth Costello, the protagonist of his earlier book, appears less than half way through the book and then refuses to go away. The narrative of the book is simple initially with the protagonist- Paul Rayment suffering a bicycle accident that leaves him with an amputed leg and then he falls in love with his Croatian nurse- Marijana Jokic. The book assumes a dreamlike sequence once Elizabeth Costello appears on the scene, leaving the protagonist and the reader guessing her role there and how does she come to control all events of Paul’s life. One of the many surmises of Paul is that he is dead and her baffling presence was indicative of an afterlife.
Paul Rayment’s character is typically reflective of the character of Coetzee and his other protagonists: lonely and stubborn. Elizabeth Costello is the piquing focal point of the novel. Her character is interesting and sharp and perhaps represents the other side of Coetzee’s character, inconspicuous to the world. Costello represents both an author of Rayment’s story and a character in the novel, akin to Coetzee perhaps, who also has a dual role: as an author and as the main character reflecting through the lead protagonist.
Quotes from the book:
“Passion: foreign territory, a comical but unavoidable affliction like mumps, that one hopes to undergo when still young, in one of its milder, less ruinous varieties, so as to not catch it seriously later on.”
“Fate deals you a hand and you play the hand you are dealt. You do not whine, you do not complain. Why then can he not resist these plunges into darkness?”
- Slow Man, J. M. Coetzee (considerthebook.in)
- World through Books
- Serene Musings
- The Pocket
- Consider the Book