Summertime is a very unusual novel in that it is a fictionalised biography of the author. The book follows a young biographer as he tries to write about Coetzee’s middle years. The strange thing is that Coetzee has already died in the book, so the biographer focuses on locating all the people who were important to him.
I’m afraid that I didn’t really understand the point of this book. Autobiographies are one thing, but I found it very odd to read a book about the author in which you have no idea what is true and what a complete fabrication. I admit to not having read Boyhood or Youth, and so perhaps I am missing something.
I found the writing style difficult to engage with. The constant switching between notes, interviews and prose meant that the book didn’t gel for me. I became distanced from the characters and although I disliked Coetzee’s character for having an affair at one point, most of the time I felt no real connection with him. It was strange that he put himself down so much. The book seemed to be very critical of everything he did:
There wasn’t much of a ‘summertime’ feel about it all – the book felt quite depressing.
Overall, it was a well written book, but I just didn’t connect with it.
Have you read Boyhood or Youth?
Did you enjoy reading Summertime?