NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Thursday, August 27, 2009

ELIZABETH COSTELLO

by J.M. Coetzee



"J.M Coetzee has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale told through in ingenious series of formal addresses. Vividly imagined and masterfully wrought, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman's life as mother, sister, lover and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling that only a writer of Coetzee's caliber could accomplish." (From the back cover of the Penguin Books edition.)

A highly philosophical, character-driven story. There is little of what most readers would think of as plot, but what I took away from this book was a sense of examining our personal belief systems and their alteration over the course of our lives. Not only beliefs regarding God and religion, but those regarding what is good and what is evil, the rights of the living -- both human and animal -- and of our part in influencing the beliefs and, consequently, actions of others. For what is life in general but a series of acts we carry out according to our beliefs?

One thing that would have been helpful for me would have been to have read Franz Kafka's short story, "A Report to an Academy", because Elizabeth refers to it extensively during her address in one section of the book. I read the short story after the fact, and it all would have made much more of an impact if I had read it first.

After both this book and Waiting for the Barbarians, I have turned the last page feeling as if I could glean so much more with a second or even third reading. Much like Graham Greene, Coetzee's writing is simple only until you peel back the first layer. He is a writer I will be returning to again soon.



14 comments:

Paperback Reader said...

I am looking forward to reading more Coetzee and this will be one of them. Thanks for the Kafka tip! I'll be sure to read it beforehand.

Lezlie said...

Paperback Reader ~ You're welcome! What others have you read by him? Any suggestions for someone who may be reading him for the first time?

Lezlie

Paperback Reader said...

Only Disgrace and Summertime, both within the last month. Disgrace is exceptional and as good a place to start as any other, I think; it certainly was a good starting point for me. I am hoping to read The Life and Times of Michael K and Foe soon.

Lezlie said...

Paperback Reader ~ Disgrace is next on my mental list. If you say it's exceptional, I'm in!

Lezlie

naida said...

this does sound very good, excellent review.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Lezlie said...

Thank you, Naida!
Lezlie

Rebecca Reid said...

I've only read one Coetzee and I liked it.

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ Which one was it? He has so many that look good!

Lezlie

Rebecca Reid said...

I read Life and Times of Michael K
Here's my thoughts, back when I wrote short reviews (ha ha)

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ Thanks for the link! I'm on my way!

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

This book has been on my TBR for awhile. Thanks so much for the link to the short story. I will be sure to read it first.

Lezlie said...

Teddy Rose ~ You're welcome! I definitely think reading it before hand will give a better perspective on that section.

Lezlie

Hazra said...

I'm looking to read my first Coetzee. Would you suggest I start with this one?

Lezlie said...

Hazra ~ I've only read this one and Waiting For the Barbarians, which I also liked. I think either one would be a good starting point. They're both easy to read but make you think. I've also heard "Disgrace" was a good one.

Lezlie