Written by Others…

Here you will find links to some of the interesting articles on literature and literary figures that I stumble across as I scan the web with my coffee in hand…

Well, what a find! Here is a fantastic way to begin your day. What we have below is the opening few bars of a new short story by J.M. Coetzee. You can find the original and full-length version of this story at The New York Review of Books website (21 December 2017).

“lies: a short story”

by J.M. Coetzee

Dear Norma,

I am writing from San Juan, from the one and only hotel here. I visited Mother this afternoon—a half-hour drive along a tortuous road. Her condition is as bad as I had feared, and worse. She cannot walk without her stick, and even then she is very slow. She has not been able to climb the stairs since returning from the hospital. She sleeps on the sofa in the living room. She tried to have her bed shifted downstairs, but the men said it had been built in situ, could not be moved without being taken to pieces first. (Didn’t Penelope have a bed like that—Homer’s Penelope?)

Her books and papers are all upstairs—no space for them downstairs. She frets, says she wants to get back to her desk, but can’t.

There is a man named Pablo who helps in the garden. I asked who does the shopping. She says she lives on bread and cheese plus what the garden provides, doesn’t need more. Nevertheless, I said, couldn’t she get one of the women from the village to come in and cook and clean? She wouldn’t hear of it—she doesn’t have relations with the village, she says. What about Pablo? I said—Isn’t Pablo part of the village? Pablo is my responsibility, she said. Pablo does not belong to the village.

Pablo sleeps in the kitchen, as far as I can see. He is not all here, or not all there, or whatever the euphemism is. I mean, I think he is an idiot, a simpleton.

I didn’t raise the chief subject—wanted to, but didn’t have the courage. I’ll do so when I see her tomorrow. I can’t say I am hopeful. She has been cool to me. She has a shrewd idea, I suspect, of why I have come.

Sleep well. Give my love to the children.


“Mother, can we discuss your living arrangements? Can we talk about the future?”


(Courtesy of The New York Review of Books)

Read the full story on The New York Review of Books website

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