Slow man and the real : a lesson in reading and writing

Wicomb, Zoe (2009) Slow man and the real : a lesson in reading and writing. Journal of Literary Studies, 25 (4). pp. 7-24. ISSN 0256-4718 (

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This essay addresses the problems of reading Slow Man (Coetzee 2005) through tracking its engagement with various levels of the real as well as its representation of the complex relationship between author, narrator and character. The real difficulty that besets the writer trying to produce a story from an inchoate idea is explored through the concept of substitution, one of the hermeneutic keys that structures the novel. Thus I examine the continuous slippage between the “real” and represent-ation. The novel’s turning of itself inside out is read, like Rachel Whiteread’s sculpture, “House”, as an absence-as-presence that also points to its overt engagement with photography.