Monday, April 9, 2012

The wonderful memoir of Coetzee (by Francesc Trillas)

Potential authors of autobiographies should read "Youth" by JM Coetzee, before writing anything about their lives. The other two autobiographical books by Coetzee ("Boyhood" and "Summertime") are also excellent, but "Youth" is the best example I have ever read of a reflection on one-self that is as tough and demanding as an external examiner would be. Memories of one's past are usually self-indulgent, exercises in importing credit and exporting blame. Coetzee does the opposite, he does not avoid self criticism and an acid look at his past. In addition to that, he gives a vivid portrait of London in the 1960s. In part, it could be a description of parts of current London, like in his frequent visits to Charing Cross Road, the bookshops' street. Early political thoughts about Southafrica and the cold war also populate this amazing brief exhibition of great literature.

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