Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee: A Book Review

slowman

“Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love. The gaze of love is not deluded. It sees what is best in the beloved even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man

This is my first book of JM Coetzee. I found it impressive, for he was able to put his themes into a genre with beautiful sentences and vocabulary, intended to spin your mind around, to ponder over the enigmatic scenes, to lead you to the plot until you get sick and tired of it. In other words, it is a matter of deeper concentration. If I were a writer, I would write such a novel. In fact, this book reminds me of one of my favorite novelists, E. L. Doctorow. It may be the reason why Coetzee  has won Booker  Prize twice and Nobel  Prize for Literature as well. I am now more curious about his other best-sellers.

Coetzee’s book basically deals with what kind of life it is in your 60’s. It can give you the realization that life is a matter of choice. While you are growing up, explore the needs which can mold your self-fulfillment before you reach your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s when you ask yourself what kind of life you have had . In SLOW MAN, Paul’s life is full of questions- regrets, disappointment, and immorality. Therefore, while you are still young, do now the fundamental needs in our life: affiliation needs and achievement needs. ( smiles)

Despite the fact that the book is steeped in beautiful sentences- I did not even notice the author himself use constructed sentences- the sequence of the stories becomes self-righteous and somehow monotonous. To read the beginning is page-turning until you reach the climax where you get tired of the quizzical argument between Paul and Costello as though I tried to make it through the ending which is so disappointing.

Aside from the moral lessons on existentialism, I learned from this book more that there is no such perfect person. Who are you to judge the people around?

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok.)

Stupid is Forever by Miriam Defensor Santiago: A Book Review

This is my review of the best-selling  Stupid is Forever by  beloved Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago that I wrote on Goodreads  in 2014  prior to her sequel Stupid  is Forevermore.

miriamTo my GR friends,

The woman in the paperback pointing both her forefingers at each side of her forehead is the author herself, Miriam Defensor Santiago, our very own Filipino senator- politician, Ramon Magsaysay awardee- equivalent to Nobel Prize- for her moral leadership in cleaning the graft-ridden government agencies. She is not only well- known for her brave character but also for her sense of humor and witty remarks, which endeared the Filipino youth and is absolutely absent among politicians in the Philippines. To know her more, you can read all about her in the Wikipedia.

This book is a collection of the beloved senator’s jokes, one-liners, pick-up lines, comebacks, and speeches.

As an avid fan of the beloved senator, I always keep track of her personal and political life through magazines, newspapers, especially through her official website. Gee, I must be enchanted by her so-called “Miriam Magic”. Thus, for an arm chair reader , there is nothing new to this book. I am almost familiar with her epigrams and speeches. So , I was almost close to giving it 1 star forgetting my passionate support for her. hahaha

Another thing that adds to my disappointment is the latent intention of the book. ( It’s just as well that it did not let me down. ) If I were a political analyst, I would opine that this book must be intended for political reasons. There are some parts the beloved senator expressing her presidential aspirations in 2016. For instance, at the end of the ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“…Her complete resume can be found at the end of this book.”

Usually, the senator is in the habit of bragging about the records of her academic excellence and professional achievements when she attempted to run in 1992, or whenever she locks horns with her political enemies. No doubt the title of the book bespeaks the beloved senator’s intellectual hubris.

In her resume, an anonymous writer seems to be putting her name on the pedestal. He/she briefly states her brilliant life as a law student in the Philippines and abroad, as a competent government official in the Congress. I find this part “apparently defensive”.

Despite the mesmerizing hidden political propaganda, I teased out the good intentions of the beloved senator, which predisposed me to giving it 4 stars. The beloved senator wants to educate voters about the incoming presidential election in 2016: She wants us to vote wisely . Reading it is like as though we listen to her speeches on the stump. But before that, she has to regale us with her pick –up lines to catch our full attention. At that time, all the kidding aside, we have to take her at her word seriously.

The book is divided into three speeches with different pick-up lines. Her first speech is on social media encouraging the students or all Filipinos to use social media as a weapon against any means of electoral fraud in 2016. The second part is the real meaning of leadership ( which caused me have a rude awakening) , how the youth should apply it to choosing our next leaders. Finally, of dreams , how it is not a “ mission impossible” to gain our shared goals.
All the rage at the end of her speeches is her inspiring poems she must have selected herself.

The beloved senator is an accomplished writer. She has written 19 books in law and social sciences. As far as I know, she is still finishing the new edition of her law book. Also, she has written two of her autobiographies. Alas, I have not read them yet. In fact, this book is the sequel to her well-received The Miriam Dictionary.

My hat is off to you ma’am. I may not know the real political circus in the Philippines, but whatever decision you will have made by 2016, your fans and I will absolutely support you. Mabuhay! ^_^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway : A Book Review

oldmanI may not know diddly about the criteria the panelists based on choosing this for Pulitzer Prize in 1953, for me , an ordinary reader like me can’t get at it. My mind was boggled at its middle part. I was even close to giving up, but still I did hang in there because I knew that its denouement would get it across me. At the end, I understood the concept . I bet its writing style or enigmatic story- how Ernest Hemmingway created such plots and settings – may have struck the panelists’ fancies.

The story is simply about an old man and the sea , who is at sea for 84 days. The old man has difficulties catching some fish , which is considered as “salao” or unlucky form for fishermen. At eighty fifty days, he lucks out a big fish which he believes can cost a lot and feed many people. However, he is unable to pull in , so he keeps on holding the line for two days. Then, he will be worn-out, but managed to load it on his skiff( which is physically impossible ) . To top it all off, he has to kill a line of sharks attracted to its dripping blood. It is a blood-curdling and breath-taking battle between Santiago and marlin.

After reading some secondary resources, it dawned on me that there is something in the story. It reminded me of an allegory from the bible. It could be. If you are in the same boat and feel like beating your head against a wall, I suggest you read it literary analysis on http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/oldman/

In the end, I appreciated the book. It is crystal-clear why the book is deserving of the Pulitzer Prize as well as of Nobel Prize. But since I tend to be subjective, I won’t be brainbrushed. ( laughs) Its fishy taste still remains in my tongue.But I won’t mind reading it again as well as his other works. I want to dig into Hemmingway more. ^^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars