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 Boyhood | Review by David Kurnick

Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life

by J.M. Coetzee

Synopsis: Coetzee's memoir of growing up in South Africa during the 1940s and 1950s is told in the third person, providing a level of ironic distance that is characteristic of his writing but which does not prevent the reader from experiencing the often painful humanity of his characters. Coetzee grew up in a new development north of Cape Town, tormented by guilt and fear. With a father he did not respect, and a mother he both adored and resented, he led a double life – at school the brilliant and well-behaved student, at home the princely despot, always terrified of losing his mother's love. His first encounters with literature, the awakenings of sexual desire, and a growing awareness of apartheid left him with baffling questions; and only in his love of the high veld ("farms are places of freedom, of life") could he find a sense of belonging.

First Line: They live on a housing estate outside the town of Worcester, between the railway line and the National Road.

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