Review and Recommendation of ‘Life and Times of Michael K’ by J.M. Coetzee

Michael K was born with a hare lip and his mother, not liking the sight of him, sent him to an institution for orphaned, unwanted and unmanageable boys where he was raised. Now a grown up in a war torn South Africa he lives by himself in Cape Town and works as a gardener at a local park, his only developed social relationship being that with his now elderly mother. Michael’s mother has worked all her life as a housekeeper for wealthy families and is now, of too bad and fragile health to perform her former duties, allowed a small room to lodge in and kept alive by the last family she worked for. When her street gets evacuated and Michael’s mother is left behind forgotten Michael builds a one-seat pushcart out of his bike and sets off with her out of the city towards the countryside and the farm where she was born and wishes to die.

Life and Times of Michael K is a war story, but from a perspective not often considered. It’s a story about war, but it’s not a story about bravery, camaraderie or disillusionment of soldiers; it’s not a story about cruelty or callousness of generals and it’s not a story about noble sacrifices of the general public. What it is is an exploration of the question

‘What happens in times of war to those who don’t fit the narrow mold for people of use or interest to the war? What happens to the homeless, the sick, the old and the cripplingly poor? What happens in a war to all those who don’t have a stake in the fight and before the war broke out were minding their own business with their hands full just staying alive?”.

Coetzee’s prose is poetic in its simplicity yet powerfully understated and the story is told with a rare sense of empathy that manages to stare the most primitive and animalistic aspects of human nature dead in the face without mock, fright or condescension. The result is a strangely uplifting experience in all it’s dark and brutal honesty.

Truly recommended.

sorry; fuck, and please prove me wrong

everything is going to be okay
eventually
that is the one lie I always chose to believe
even though
even now
I try
from time to time
but things just are
that is the truth
and the only thing you can ever really change
is your perspective
that is why
we are all alone
in the end
and the selfish people always get to lead the way
blind, dumb, deaf and dead
sorry
fuck
and please prove me wrong
please
please
prove me wrong

Death and other pastimes

deep as death
I’ve always slept
without a dream
or so it’ve seemed
kind of ironic
perhaps
given that I’ve always been a dreamer
for a long time seeming like the only one
til johnny told me otherwise
in the voice of my mother
from before I was born
though I’ll always feel the part
on my walk
through the pine riddled
blueberry fields forever
where appropriated rune stones whisper
in the voices of the always silent
about present pasts
that never was
and always will be.

Turmoil in the Corporate Bathroom

by cwviderkull

Hey there
so called man
in the mirror.

What’s wrong with you?!

You’re not even close
to being
who you never wanted
to be.
It’s like you’re not even trying!

How hard can it be
to just
put your head down
and work for all that
you never wanted
in the first place?

Stop whining!
Must everything be so difficult?

Just pick a personality
already
from the
glittery sample book
called
freedom.
They come pre-packaged, you know,
with instruction manuals,
and look,
they’re all on sale!
And why must you focus
on the
bloodstains on it?
It’s not your blood,
or your family’s.
What’s it to you?
Pretend it’s ketchup
and go buy some
fucking fries
for lunch.

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