Ice Friday: Coetzee’s “Childhood of Jesus”

I’m willing to cut J.M. Coetzee a break on this one. The author of Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace has much to live up to, and doesn’t in The Childhood of Jesus. While the idea seems solid – Jesus as a metaphorical refugee in a nameless land – the realization is not.

“There is no such thing as one’s own language.”

“There is! La la fa fa yam ying tu tu.”

“That’s just gibberish. It doesn’t mean anything.IMG_4667The book reads like an outline, a hodgepodge of dialogue glued together without description or development.

“Toilets are just toilets, but poo is not just poo,” he says. “There are certain things that are not just themselves, not all of the time. Poo is one of them.”

The boy shakes his head. “It’s my poo. I want to stay!”

“It was your poo. But you evacuated it. You got rid of it. It’s not yours anymore. You no longer have a right to it.”

Enough said about that.