For Christmas I gave mum a copy of Slow Man (2005) by J.M. Coetzee. I bought the hardback at the Coop Bookshop as it was discounted 15 percent. Postage to Queensland was about eight dollars.
She read it twice, apparently, and especially enjoyed the portrayal of Elizabeth Costello, who she described as "gutsy". So that I could read it too, she returned the volume to me here in Campsie. I read it and then returned it to her along with my paperback copy of Elizabeth Costello (2003) — another eight dollars.
CAUTION - SPOILER - ELIZABETH COSTELLO
She especially enjoyed the earlier novel's long final scene where Elizabeth is waiting to be admitted to the afterlife — or wherever this ante-room is leading to. It's a curious ending, but Coetzee pulls it off with flair: the dusty streets, dowdy barracks and incommunicative staff. A perfect depiction of the state of high bureaucracy and lifelessness that must accompany existence at the farthest edge of created space (chiming in nicely with the over-regulated, decrepit village depicted with such verve in Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1991)).
Mum asked me for another book, so I'm going to send her The Double (2004) by Jose Saramago. I love his tortuous paragraphs and bleeding dialog, and this book is actually a mystery thriller in the traditional format that I know my mum once enjoyed reading.
The first book by Saramago that I read was The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1989), which dad gave me and which I started in Japan while travelling — first in the coach to the airport and then onboard the flight. The narrative gripped me from the first page. There's something so soothing about his prose. It lulls you and whispers secrets through the matrix of text in a way that no other writer's does. Dark green and grey prose.