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Vladislavic was recommended to me by some literary critics in South Africa, who are fed up with Coetzee because he is taken to represent their national situation. In their view, Coetzee's sense of politics is simple-minded to the point of absurdity, and unhelpfully mythologizing ("Waiting for the Babrarians"), while his sense of place is abstract to the point of universality (where, exactly, does "Despair" or "Diary of a Bad Year"take place?). Personally, I had never read Coetzee as a way to learn about South Africa, but I can easily see the frustration among South African readers when he is taken by so many people around the world as an emblem of what South Africa is. As one person said, he's a salve for the consciences of many readers.[return][return]Vladislavic is a tremendous antidote. There's a small similarity between "The Exploded View" and Roddy Doyle's early work: in both cases, the subject is the forgotten parts of the country, where dirt, corruption, kinds of poverty, and general confusion mix with kitsch, regional capitalism, and camp. "The Exploded View" is about those stretches of the freeway in South Africa where townships sit beside new housing estates. It's an excellent verbal portrait of that new sort of landscape outside of suburbia and slums.[return][return]As with Coetzee, it's also possible to read Vladislavic just as a writer, instead of as a way of finding out about South Africa. (Even though he occasionally makes that difficult by putting census facts and figures in his characters' mouths. telling us, for example, that one two percent of white South Africans speak an African language.) In terms of writing, his descriptions are often wonderful, although he does rely a great deal on similes, and he does tend to write brief, imagistic similes, one per clause or one per sentence. There are some passages in which images merge rather than accumulating, but they are in the minority. His similes are inventive and sharp enough to sustain the writing�but it also feels as if the writing needs sustaining, as if it would sink down into ordinary prose if it weren't buoyed by metaphors. The tropes are like little gulps of air: they make the surrounding writing appear inert. What are the limitations of such a style, where description happens in iterated units, and is almost exclusively metaphoric, visual, and deictic? [return][return]There's also the issue of realism, and Vladislavic's distance from his raw material. Occasionally his similes are based on observations that appear to have been made minutes before he took notes on them. It's hard not to imagine him walking and driving through the housing estates, townships, and highways, and jotting things down in a notebook. Those passages are distracting, and it would have been better if he'd modified and integrated them into material he'd invented later on. But he's an excellent writer, and I'm going to read another book of his soon.

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PublisherRandom House (NY)
Release date 01.01.2004
File size4.3 Mb
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
Book rating3.55 (56 votes)
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