Tag Archives: J.M Coetzee

#30 “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee

I just finished reading “Disgrace” on my lunch break. I now stand at my work station waiting for the starting bell to sound for the monotony of truck building to commence for the next two hours until the end of my shift. The air feels heavy with disillusionment. Yeah, I initially thought it was asbestos too. Each breath seems to enter my stomach weighing me down or it could be the two pounds of barbeque from “Shigs and Pit” I scarfed down a few days ago. No… I know with sixty percent certainty that it is directly related to the content of the aforementioned novel.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g37114-d3196968-i97302212-Shigs_in_Pit-Fort_Wayne_Indiana.html
http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g37114-d3196968-i97302212-Shigs_in_Pit-Fort_Wayne_Indiana.html

In this two hundred and twenty page book I trudged along laboriously reading about David Lurie’s downward spiral from a position of esteemed English professor to a lowly assistant of an animal shelter who aids in euthanizing and disposing of injured and unwanted animals.

How did this happen? I’m glad you asked.

David Lurie made a series of bad decisions based on faulty reasoning with the backing of his chemical composition. No. he doesn’t have a psychological disorder. He’s just a typical guy flirting with fire who finally got burned. So, David Lurie likes sex. No… he NEEDS sexual release. He had a good plan from the beginning; he saw on a regular basis, an escort by the name of Soraya. Lurie hopes that this will satiate his hunger (faulty reasoning number one). But one day by chance, they spotted each other outside of their weekly “meetings”. Soraya was with her two boys and that glimpse into a non-sexual part of her life was awkward for them both and eventually led to the termination of the arrangement.

Next scene: David comes across a student of his, Melanie Isaacs,  “dawdling” “through the old college gardens”. After inviting her up to his place for all intents and purposes to seduce her into bed she woke out of her naive trance realizing that she was about to have coitus with her fifty-two year old professor with his aged body and gross wrinkly balls. She leaves with no harm. Later as he  battled within himself over whether to accept the reality of the situation (it’s just ICKY) or give into his desire, the latter won out. He tactically pursued her whereabouts, caught her off guard, overcame her and got what he wanted without a struggle.

A complaint was filed which led to him being confronted by a committee of his peers. He plead guilty and lost his job and respect. All of this occurs in the first fifty-five pages.

The rest of the one hundred and sixty-five pages reminded me of the last few episodes of “Breaking Bad” when Walter White discovered that his actions have created some serious repercussions. Instead of admitting his mistakes he continued spouting his pompous drivel of “I’m doing this for sake of my family”.  Likewise David Lurie pridefully admitted his actions were justified explaining to his daughter (faulty reasoning number two):

“When you were small, when we were still living in Keniworth, the people next door had a dog, a golden retriever…It was a male. Whenever there was a bitch in the vicinity it would get excited and unmanageable, and with Pavlovian regularity the owners would beat it. This went on until the poor dog didn’t know what to do. At the smell of a bitch it would chase around the garden with its ears flat and its tail between its legs, whining, trying to hide…There was something ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offense like chewing a slipper. A dog will accept the justice of that: a beating for a chewing. But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts…that poor dog had begun to hate its own nature.”

Well, the rest of the story as you might have expected from my second paragraph didn’t go well for David. I wanted there to be restitution for his actions but it really doesn’t feel satisfying when it actually happens.

http://www.allmovie.com/movie/disgrace-v462908
http://www.allmovie.com/movie/disgrace-v462908

Can I be honest?? I am a male, big surprise. Glad I got that off my chest. Phew!! Seriously though, I can relate to this character. I used to go to bars and dance clubs and how often I’ve seen and heard men using many tactics to catch their prey off guard in the hopes of getting laid from the simple “can I buy you a drink” to the lame when I actually heard someone say they were a rocket scientist. Does this work ladies?

Like in “Disgrace” we have the pursuer and the victim. In the bar setting both parties are subject to my earlier statement, “bad decisions based on faulty reasoning with the backing of his chemical composition.” As in animals we feel the heat of passion and want to release the pressure. As humans we have deductive reasoning and forethought that going home with someone at the bar will usually not end with a positive note. Oh well we only live once right?? I hate that comment. I would like to hear someone say that after they find out their pregnant or contracted an STD.

I have no game. No skills. All I got is my tireless attempts at making eye contact and I know how to shake my booty. I recall once walking around the dance floor, scoping out the ladies, beer in hand, when I spotted a lady staring me down. So this is eye contact. Surprised, I continued walking sipping my beer and glancing in her direction again. Still locked in my direction. I turned around to see if someone was behind me that was the recipient of this look. As you can tell I was not used to this. I danced with her and left it at that. I didn’t want to be a baby daddy.

The application after reading this novel is use deductive reasoning before allowing yourself to fall prey to your passions.

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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Two days ago while feeding my daughter her lunch my wife with a little giddy-up in her step lunges for the front door with her keen sense of knowing when our mail is delivered. I have a keen sense when watching Jeopardy that right after a contestant chooses a topic and Double Jeopardy pops up I eerily knew it would. Creepy!!

So, my wife with her mail in hand drops off a package delivery to me. I can’t wait to open it but I must finish feeding my daughter first. Every part of my being desires to rip it open right now. The box looks sturdy so I may need a knife or a…and here comes my lady already prepared bringing the scissors. I’m still in the act of feeding as I watch her slice open the box with such precision like a surgeon cutting into a patient. As I stare at her hands lifting out this massive book I am sure the spoon I’m wielding is dripping food on the top of the high chair. The title on the front of the book says “1001 Books You Must  Read Before You Die.”

She comments that it’s a lot bigger than she thought it would be. The perfect opportunity to respond, “That’s what she said” but my stomach is churning with excitement (I know I sound lame) waiting in anticipation to sift through the pages novels I will one day read.

In the evening while laying on my stomach hands, elbows and pillow propping me up I skim through the novels I’ve recently read to see what literary professors had to say about them. See if I missed something. In fact there was a lot I was missing. No “Watchmen”, no “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, no “Saturday”. Well, if you’ve read my blog you would find I wasn’t too crazy about “Saturday” anyway. I was flabbergasted.

I originally chose the books from the online list of the aforementioned title. Investigating further I found out that the new book I received is a revised version (which I was aware of) and according to Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. the version I have in my possession contains 250 changes of the 1001 novel titles. What!! “The List” I was working from is a 2006 version. Let’s see I have read (drum roll) 54 novels, blogged about 27 of them. Of the 27 novels 8 have been removed from the list.

The day I am nearing the end of completing this massive task there will be many more revisions. Maybe one day the books like the Hunger Games trilogy and the Harry Potter’s will be added and my goal will be even closer.

I will now pay tribute to the novels I have blogged about that have fallen down the out-of-order elevator shaft to enter the world of “Well, it’s okay if you die before you read it” list.

1. “Saturday” by Ian McEwan (don’t worry you have a few left on the list)

2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro (every time I see your title I will cringe at the idea of having my organs ripped out)

3.  “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon (you’ll always have Broadway)

4. “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters (I was glad that you were in audiobook form)

5. “Youth” by J.M. Coetzee (I am glad I read it before it was taken off the list)

6. “Choke” by Chuck Palaniuk (Palaniuk has no other books on the list but I know every time I ride a plane I will remember how someone could be naked in the bathroom with the door unlocked waiting for an innocent bystander to stumble upon them in hopes of contributing to the mile high club)

Question to my readers. I can’t even imagine joining the mile high club in such small confinements as the planes’ bathroom. Who has joined the club and what creative ways did they accomplish this task?

7. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden (I still will recommend you to others)

8. “The Robber Bride” by Margaret Atwood (after reading “The Blind Assassin” also no longer on “The List” thank God, this book restored my hope in Atwood’s other books on the list.)