Diary of A Bad Year

Diary of A Bad Year

Book - 2007
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An eminent, seventy-two-year-old Australian writer is invited to contribute to a book entitled Strong Opinions . It is a chance to air some urgent concerns. He writes short essays on the origins of the state, on Machiavelli, on anarchism, on al Qaida, on intelligent design, on music. What, he asks, is the origin of the state and the nature of the relationship between citizen and state? How should the citizen of a modern democracy react to the state's willingness to set aside moral considerations and civil liberties in its war on terror, a war that includes the use of torture? He is troubled by Australia's complicity with America and Britain in their wars in the Middle East; an obscure sense of dishonour clings to him.

In the laundry-room of his apartment block he encounters an alluring young woman. When he discovers she is 'between jobs' he claims failing eyesight and offers her work typing up his manuscript. Anya has no interest in politics but the job provides a distraction, as does the writer's evident and not unwelcome attraction toward her.

Her boyfriend, Alan, an investment consultant who understands the world in harsh neo-liberal economic terms, has reservations about his trophy girlfriend spending time with this 1960s throwback. Taking a lively interest in his affairs, Alan begins to formulate a plan.

Publisher: Harvill Secker, 2007
ISBN: 9781846551208
Branch Call Number: AF COET


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Oct 19, 2017

An oddly constructed novel: the page is divided (eventually) into three, with the first, top part, devoted to an essay, and the other two to the narrative(s). The narratives are silly, with stereotypical stock characters and a uninteresting plot. Very few of the essays are interesting, but they are the best part of the book; most are like blog posts. Awful book.

Aug 05, 2012

Coetzee is sincere in this book and that's refreshing in this dyin age. A very interesting thinker. His thoughts on quietism are comforting and provide company in a strange atomized way, his deliberate compassion makes him relatable. Beyond compare, I would agree with author226's comments (and thanks for providing the run-down).

author226 Nov 15, 2011

Not the common type of book!
Two parallel lines through it: 1. opinions on different matters, such as politics, authors, photographers, children, ageing, water, fire and endless other ones… 2. The acquaintance with a young pretty lady who ...types the old writer’s manuscript. The opinions are at times lengthy compared to what goes on with the lives of the characters but that somehow raises the tension and interest to move through the pages.
As for the storytelling: The STRENGTH of the word is magnificent! And somehow there is the sound of a typewriter (though the computer is what is really used to type the pages) – distant – always existent when reading line upon line… Maybe because of the young woman the writer hires to type his manuscript, maybe because each word sounds so strong it almost hits the paper with the metal fingers of the typing machine…
Definitely a unique signature!

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