Here's one from 1999:
I was keen to read Coetzee?s Disgrace because of a new Australian-produced adaptation of the novel which recently won the FIPRESCI prize at Toronto Film Festival. From all early reports John Malkovich is fantastic. However, my judgment on the film will have to wait a few weeks. Instead, to the novel.
This Booker Prize winner is certainly a thought-provoking look at a man?s decent into crisis, but I have to admit that Disgrace and I never found a grove. First up, I?m not particularly interested in the well-worn narrative of an aging academic taking advantage of a female student. But, of course, Coetzee is no amateur, rather he spins the narrative in more complex circles, analysing power struggles of post-apartheid South Africa while questioning gender roles in both sexual relationships and parental stereotypes. Nevertheless, I think my ambivalence comes from simply not liking the protagonist David Lurie. Now maybe the reader isn?t meant to like Lurie, but fundamentally I had no deep-held sense of empathy for his situation.
Much has been written about this book, and if the accolades are to be believed, I am probably safe in assuming that I am in the minority. It is not the first time I?ve had differing opinions to the literary elite, my contempt for A Farewell to Arms springs to mind. But what really surprises me about Disgrace is that not only did I not like it all that much, I didn?t dislike it all that much either. Instead, I consider it an above average character study which never attains the same emotive stamp as its first paragraph. I?ll be sure to give some of his other books a go as his is a beautiful writer (as evident in the opening paragraph of Disgrace) and I will say that I enjoyed his 2003 work Elizabeth Costello. I guess there is no accounting for taste.
Here's that first paragraph:
For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. He goes straight in through to the bedroom, which is pleasant-smelling and softly lit, and undresses. Soraya emerges from the bathroom, drops her robe, slides into bed beside him. ?Have you missed me?? she asks/ ?I miss you all the time,? he replies. He strokes her honey-brown body, unmarked by the sun; he stretches her out, kisses her breasts; they make love.