On Character

I’m reading “Life & Times of Michael K” by Coetzee, who wrote one of my favorites, “Disgrace.” “Life” is two-hundred pages and taking me forever, which is usually a sign I’m bored. I realized that while the writing is superb, the exploration of war-torn South Africa is less about a character and more about a people, a time, and a place. Michael is representational rather than real. I sense I’m supposed to compare myself to him as a homo sapien, as opposed to a human being. Cotzee is sending me a message about humanity, rather than Michael’s own, personal desires, struggles, and dissapointments. He’s not interested in his character’s individuality, but his universality.

Which, to me, makes for one snoozer of a book. “Disgrace” managed to say something broad via the particular pains of real, particular people.

Ah, well. Character is king, I guess.

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