Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Coetzee’s Three Stories, Money for Boats, and Snowpiercer

Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.


Yesterday, I read a tiny collection by J.M. Coetzee called Three Stories. It was put out by an independent press in Australia, Text, who also did his last novel, The Childhood of Jesus, in 2013.

I have a weakness of nice looking books, books that are objects, and Three Stories is a cute little hardcover, about eighty pages in length. My girlfriend picked it up in Hobart last year, because she’s a bit of a Coetzee fan. I like him as well, though I have only read his novel, Disgrace. But I thought that was an excellent novel, truly. Three Stories was quite good as well, and once again, I was reminded of the lightness of Coetzee’s prose, the ease by which it conveys itself, the seemingly effortless way it moves you across the page. Prose like that is something to be admired, I believe. My girlfriend told me (as we did our grocery shopping this morning) that Coetzee writes multiple drafts of all his work. He reportedly wrote fourteen for Disgrace. If you take anything away from that, you should take away the idea that light, effortless prose is anything but effortless.

My favourite story in Three Stories was ‘He and His Man’, which was the speech that Coetzee gave when he received a Nobel for his work. It is about Robinson Crusoe after he has returned from his island, and the world about him.


It appears that Australia has paid people smugglers to take their refugees back to Indonesia.

I say appears, because it has not been admitted yet, and will not likely be so, but I suspect that we can all simply accept that Australia has done so. What are we to do about this, really? It’s appalling, of course: but it is another appalling moment in a litany of shameful acts by Australia to asylum seekers, from sexual abuse to self harm to the denial of basic treatment to men and women for hygiene and simple injuries. Australia has even sent a five month old child to Naura. But what are we do to? What can we do? I have stopped saying that it is the Australian Government that does this, and now I say that Australia does this, that we do this, because after all that we have heard, all that we been told, we as a nation continue to allow this to happen, we as a people accept it and allow it. But the question remains, how do we stop it?

And the answer is, I do not know.


Lastly, I watched Snowpiercer last week. It was decent enough, if predictable, and with an ending that was, perhaps, a little strange. I know the film wants us all to think that there is life outside the train when it shows us the survivors before a polar bear, but I wonder, does it realise just exactly what kind of animal a polar bear is?

I suppose that can be applied to my point, earlier, about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, as well.

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