Parents are responsible for bringing into the world their progeniture whether deliberately or carelessly and theirs is an unwritten covenant that the life of the child, and by descent the child's child, is to be valued above that of the original progenitors.Gordimer's assault on grammar and syntax doesn't end there. Practically every page contains some such monstrosity. Sometimes Gordimer is merely awkward:
The tall heavy woman, ageing gourd filled with a life of many troubles, rather than a delicate yellow flower, who had never before been called into the livingroom to sit down and talk with her employers, nevertheless gave them the uninhibited attention their good relations, her considerate working conditions and excellent pay, she found naturally called for.Sometimes she is, well, even more awkward:
For the first few moments there, eyelids alternately squeezing and lifting wide at the immersion in that benign illumination, of the sun, birds who ring out like mobile phones.Sometimes you find yourself reading the phrase aloud to loved ones so they too can bask in its finely-wrought badness:
Hearing this apparently general reaction to overwhelment by splendour beyond skylines he doesn't tell, no, you have to endure being in it: a menacing part of it.Often, though, you have to set the book aside while you wipe tears of laughter from your eyes:
Could you have ever interrupted your selfhood - yes - for an unthinking primitive gratification of some sort, a child gobbling a lollipop.Considerations of "style" aside, Get a Life has little to recommend it. The story tells of Paul, a young South African ecologist, who is diagnosed with thyroid cancer and treated with a kind of radioactive dye that forces him into quarantine under the care of his parents. Gordimer follows various strands - Paul's parents' marital difficulties; his work as an anti-nuclear activist; his wife's career in advertising - each less interesting than the last. The narrative voice is as dry as an unbuttered Salada, the characters are tedious bores, and the political angle is as poorly-handled as political angles in literary novels tend to be. Gordimer's prose style provides some unintended comic relief, but otherwise Get a Life is sodding dull.
I'm as cynical about the Booker as anybody, but it still staggers me that shitty writing like this is rewarded with a spot on the longlist. How does it even get published?