Foe by J.M. Coetzee

There are a small number of highly respected and widely liked authors who I despise, though over the years their continued popularity and esteem have worn my ire down to a surly resignation. I call them my arch-nemeses, which would of course make perfect sense, or at least something more than perfect nonsense, if I were a writer, if I actually wrote, if they knew, or were at least aware of, me and my resentment. It’s a bad hero that the arch-nemesis does not know, and is not in the least threatened of even affected by. Though I suspect they are here the heroes, not me.

Ewan McIan is my main antagonist. You may know him by his civilian name Ian McEwan. Paulo Coelho (aka The Alchemist) is another. And J.M. Coetzee. I am not judging them unfairly; by that I mean I’m not judging them blindly. I have read numerous books from each of them. McIan I despise because all his stories are about the whole world spiralling out of control, but really, from one lousy misunderstanding, when a simple ‘oh, that’s not what I meant’ would have sufficed. It reminds me of the cartoon Why Breaking Bad would’ve never worked in Europe: Oh, you have cancer, here, have some treatment. The end. I hate Coelho because of his hollow esoteric rubbish. Need I say more?

And Coetzee? Coetzee is most often praised for his ‘spare’ prose, but I just find him boring. Still I remain fascinated by him (and the others too, to a lesser extent). I give them chance after chance. There are still books from Coetzee that I want to read, Elizabeth Costello, for example. I’ve read a little about his writing so I know why his work is valued, why it’s good. And the reasons, I like. But unfortunately it mostly just feels like those descriptions of modern art pieces, wonderful, insightful, blisteringly scathing, but which piece are we talking about exactly?

And Foe really does sound fascinating. I just hope it’s not boring.

-Reading the Why


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