Friday, November 11, 2011

Audioreview: Disgrace

Listened 11/3/11 - 11/10/11
2 Stars - Too aggravated to properly recommend
6 CD's, approx 6 hrs

Folks, this may be the first time I am at a loss for words when composing a review. There is so much that I want to say that I can't quite put it all into words. There was just so much wrong with this novel... on so many different levels...

Let's start here: I own this book. Have for quite some time. Really had no interest in reading it anytime soon. But while browsing the audiobooks at the library last week, I decided to pick it up and listen to it. I admit to being curious about the whole "love him or hate him" effect JM Coetzee has on his readers. I mean, he's a Nobel Prize winner for crissake! I couldn't help but wonder Would I love him or hate him? Admit it. You wonder too, don't you? Oh shove it, don't lie to me!!

Wanna know when I decided whether I loved him or hated him? I decided while I was listening to the last disc on my way home from work tonight. Because before this disc, I was feeling pretty humdrum about the whole thing. I mean, I wasn't feeling much of anything for any of the characters. Sure, I disliked them all, because, you know, they are all incredibly ugly, disgusting people, really.  But I wasn't really feeling anything. I figured this was going to be one of those books that disappeared from my memory banks shortly after it ended because of the incredible lack of feeling I had towards it. Then the last disc had to go and piss me off. I mean REALLY piss me off. Like "had I not borrowed the audiobook from the library, I would have whipped the fucking disc right out of the car window" pissed off. Like "had I been reading the book (instead of listening to the audiobook), I would have ripped the fucking thing in half with my bare hands as I screamed for it to Go To Hell" pissed off.

For starters, David Lurie is a letch. He's a 50-something year old man who cannot keep his eyes, hands, or thoughts off of women. All kinds of women. Street whores, college students, professional escorts, married frumpy old ladies. He believes that he doesn't deserve the frumps though, he thinks that he can still get the young ones, is deserving of the young ones, and that, my friends, is what gets his horny old ass in trouble. Though, he's steadfast in his belief that there is nothing wrong with doing these things, behaving in such a way. Dipping his old man stick into women like it's no big thing. Oh, did I happen to mention that he's a teacher? His speciality? ... Wait for it... He teaches the Romantic Arts. (Le Sigh, of course he does.) And he's fucking obsessed with Bryon. So obsessed, in fact, that he decides to compose an opera about Byron during his Italy years with some chick named Teresa (Oh, don't get me started. The parts of the book that deal with his wanna-be-novel-that's-suddenly-an-opera were awful). A real 'don juan' that one was. Methinks Lurie had a bit of a man crush on Byron and was in awe of his apparently insatiable sex drive, and perhaps a wee bit jealous, hence his own sick, sad infatuation with women and sex.

So Lurie takes things a bit too far and gets freakishly stalkish with a student of his. They indulge in this awkward, one side (his sided) love affair, he gets in over his head, her parents find out, they rat him out to the school board, he refuses to read the charges but admits to whatever they are, gets told to hit the road, and takes his sorry ass out to South Africa to sulk and lick his wounds, hiding from his disgrace, mooching off Lucy, his lesbian farmer daughter, for awhile.

Lucy is naive, or perhaps just your typical headstrong woman who refuses to let a man define her or point out the obvious to her. I haven't quite figured that out yet. But she is in for a rude awakening, let me tell you!

I take it you are all familiar with karma, yes? What goes around comes around? Well... letchy David Lurie and his miserable, bossy, man hating daughter are about to get one big ass helping of karma served to them, hot and steaming on the plate, so open up and say aaahhhh...

**beware... spoilers be here**

Karma comes to Lucy in the form of three black men who trick her into her house and three-way her while her father is locked in the bathroom and set on fire. He sticks his head in the toilet to put the flames out and waits for Lucy to let him out, which she does, after the men leave in her father's car. It's a hate rape, a power thing, and she refuses to speak of it. She lies about it and ignores it, and choosing to live in silence with her disgrace, while Lurie, understandably, works up a froth over it. See, that's his karma biting him in the ass. The disgrace is his daughter's, yet he can't escape it. Not like how he escaped his own...

So sure, I get it, it's political. Her hired help, Petrus, is showing her who's boss. He sends some men around to show her what he's capable of, what he can do to her. He's connected, cannot be touched. So she cowers behind a false sense of faith and trust and lies to herself. The more David pushes her, the more she pushes back against what he wants her to do - report it to the police, see those men placed behind bars. She withdraws inside herself. She lets the "act", her disgrace, defeat her.

But that's not what pissed me off. Not by a long shot. The thing that pissed me off was her decision to keep the baby - the baby that will be a constant reminder of the "act", a constant reminder of her disgrace. What woman in her right mind would do such a thing?! It makes no sense to me. Furthermore, why would she consider an offer to marry Petrus as a means of "protection", give up her farm to him as a means of "protection"? Marry the very man who did this to her? (well, not directly, he didn't rape her, but he was behind all of it!) It pissed me off that Lurie tucked tail and accepted these things. That he didn't run out there and fuck Petrus up, show him who's boss!

This book made me sick. It put me in a foul mood. JM Coetzee just pushed things way too far in the end. The fact that Lucy would just give up and give in to such demands, that her father would sit idly beside her was unreal to me. Lucy, agreeing to marry Petrus for protection, as a way to raise this baby that was created through such an act of disgrace, was absolutely ridiculous to me.

**end spoilers...**

And let's not get me started on the god-damned dogs. All those kennel dogs. And the bulldog bitch Katie (Coetzee's words, not mine) who reflected what Lucy was to become, and that deformed little music-loving dog who reflected what David had become. Let's just forget the dogs.

And really, honestly, I'd like to forget the entire fucking book. Can I do that? Can I just forget the fucking book? And its disgusting, ugly characters? And its horrid acts of disgrace? Can I do that? God... I hope I can do that.


  1. You know what I love about this review? I was angry by the time I finished the last words. Angry WITH you. You hated the book but WELL PUT!

    I don't always comment, but I do enjoy your blog.


  2. I happen to love Disgrace but also loved your review. If there is one thing I think most pope can say about this book it is that it doesn leave you feeling meh. And you probably won't forget it. Sorry.