Seeing Coetzee read on Thursday night thus presented a spectacle to make any postmodern literary critic lick their chops: an almost pathologically private man reading his own "fictionalised memoir", with Summertime achieving a further distancing effect by means of the fact that the book takes the form of a series of interviews with people from Coetzee’s life carried out after Coetzee’s death.Coetzee fans will remember that in the previous books in the trilogy, Boyhood and Youth, the young John Coetzee discovered a radioactive meteor in provincial South Africa and soon after began experiencing the distancing of signs from their signifiers. In search of signifiers less free-floating, he set out across the wilds of the veld and had many interesting encounters with metaphysical conceits that both tormented him and provided balm to his increasingly abjected soul. By the end of the second book, though, his quest seemed to have failed, as he was captured by an evil allegorist and tortured with harrowingly simplified logics that succeeded in revealing the death instinct to be the mask of symbolic order. All ambiguity appeared to be lost, killed in the dungeon of the allegorist. The author was finally dead.
But wait! In the third installment, we discover that our intrepid hero has come back from the dead to seek revenge, justice, and contingent truths! Will he triumph over the textual practices of enemies more powerful than any he has encountered before? Will traditionalist gangsters plug him in the aporia? What are the interpretive implications of his mantra, "They're coming for you, Elizabeth Costello!"
And most shocking for Coetzee fans may be the scenes of their hero consuming dead flesh as he fuels himself for the final battle in what is sure to be hailed as the greatest novel since Samuel Beckett's Malone Dies Again! Don't miss it!