What happens when you see yourself standing at some point where you are not sure where to move and no path is visible to you, let go any goal or destination. You stand there muttering, cursing, lamenting and at times assuring and reasoning yourself. And then suddenly out of nowhere as if the long cast mist has cleared you see some path, some road to set foot to. And suddenly without thinking, where the road leads, one is thrust on it by the weight of the past’s over burdened feelings. And imagine your conscience waking up after some time when you have starting moving on that path. And since your conscience is at loggerheads with your desires the only motion left of you is skidding and slipping. And amidst this skidding and slipping someone just one day stands up and calls you Slowman.
Such is the story of Slowman, which J M Coetzee showcases here.
The novel begins with Paul Rayment waking up form an accident and realizing that he has lost a leg. Lying on his bed he thinks about his life questioning everything and anything. The novels moves as if some existential saga is unfolding but then suddenly with the arrival of a new nurse everything changes and a trite longing story of an amputated old man starts which goes on for some time and when the proceedings become too boring the novel is revived by the arrival of Elizabeth Costello. But the revival is short-lived and the story then meekly and despairingly keeps on continuing b/w Paul, Elizabeth, the Nurse and her family.
One reason for the story becoming despairingly banal is that a lot of questions are being asked, which in the beginning look great and the reader also ponders with them but then it becomes apparent that the only thing author is doing here is just asking them without exploring any of them.
Looking from another angle the story is a crude representation of old age noting that Paul and Elizabeth are in 60’s and 70’s and the storyteller Coetzee himself is in 60’s. So the author presents a story where one keeps questioning everything as the life is in quandary and also not going too deep into the questions as only reality thr is that life is standing on its last legs.
In all not a very entertaining read though it begins very nice but gets lost in the oblivion of questions and triteness.