Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I had a disturbing moment of self-reflection today... do you ever have those?

Since finishing The Service of Clouds by Delia Falconer on the train home from Orange last week, I've been reading Youth by JM Coetzee. I've not been very enthralled by it, and I'm pushing on out of a desire to do the book justice. It occurred to me while reading this afternoon the reason I'm not enjoying it is that it's not providing any form of escape.

It's the story of a recent university graduate, who dreams of being an artist (in particular, a poet), and moves from his homeland (South Africa) to London in search of inspiration. He ends up landing a boring job at IBM. He whines a lot about being unlucky in love, his parents and his unfulfilled artistic aspirations. He is socially awkward, and ends up in weird static relationships. He's hallmarked by his insecurities, and constant self-doubt. He puts no faith in others and sees the world like a stage unfit for his desires.

The disturbing part is that I realised the story provides no escape for me, because I'm too much like the protagonist! Ok so i'm not working for IBM, and i'm not pining after love with a wild woman, but basically the whole 'repressed artist with little talent living a boring life in metropolitan city and whinging about their lack of opportunity' is me all over! Argh trust Coetzee to author such a piercing portrayal of the 20-something psyche.

How terrible... both that I'm just like this unloveable character, and that I need to 'escape' to enjoy a book!

eek better keep reading to learn my fate.


onlinesoph said...

Ive had a similar, horrifying moment of realisation.

I read Lily Bretts autobiography last year and realised that I hated the way she portrayed herself as the protagonist - always anxious, unable to go with the flow, so middle class and white bred. Then I realised I hated her because she was like me!

sophg said...

haha got to love it. Glad I'm not the only one!