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Get a Life by Nadine Gordimer

Get a Life (2005)

by Nadine Gordimer

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I hadn't read any of Nadine Gordimer's books before and after this I'm not sure I'll be in a hurry to read any more. Uninvolving plot and characters together with a difficult writing style don't make things easy. There is no doubt that Ms Gordimer is a clever and intelligent writer. The fault probably lies with me in that I didn't think the reward from trying harder with the book would be worth the effort. Or maybe this was a good writer just churning out another novel to keep the production line going and the brain ticking over. ( )
  Steve38 | Dec 22, 2011 |
Get a Life is a relatively new book by the South African Nobel Prize winning author Nadine Gordimer. Gordimer is known for her spare, yet descriptive and lyrical prose. This novel is no exception. Get a Life tells the story of Paul Bannerman, a 35 year old father of a young son who is diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As part of his treatment regimen, Paul is left temporarily radioactive, and unable to be around his young son. So Paul decamps to his childhood home, to be cared for by his parents and Primrose, the faithful family servant.

This novel follows Paul and his family through his recovery, as well as his parents’ journey towards their upcoming retirement. As in real life, the family’s journey takes unexpected turns; some happy, others less so.

Like other novels by South African writers, the shadow of apartheid, now abolished, underlays much that the family experiences.The book is also peppered with typical South African phrases, based on native languages. Fortunately, there is also a brief glossary.

Gordimer’s writing style requires a bit of adjusting. She appears to skip through events but if read carefully, it is possible to follow the plot. If you’ve never read Gordimer before, keep plugging away. Get a Life is worth the difficulties involved. ( )
1 vote LaBibliophille | Mar 10, 2009 |
I found the reading difficult sometimes, but the plot and characters compelling. How does a man respond when he becomes off-limits, radioactive? How does it affect the rest of the people in his life? Wife, mother, son, father? Interesting to catch a glimpse of post-apartheid South Africa. ( )
  soccertheology | Apr 30, 2008 |
Nadine Gordimer is a brilliant author. She starts off her books at a slow pace, then the story suddenly picks up a whirlwind speed and the equations alter significantly.
Get a Life is about a man's emotions on being quarantined after receiving radioactive treatment for cancer, and how he rebonds with his mother and takes a look at his life during this phase.
As is usual with Nadine's themes, she weaves in racial divisions and moral questions into the story.
A good read. And a great author. ( )
  madhuri_agrawal | May 14, 2007 |
I'm very ambivolent about this book:
the writing is very poetic, but very difficult;
the characters unfurl slowly until we get to know them well, but they are easily confused - the women are strong and independant, the men are sensitive and understanding (although both have major faults)
the plot seems stereotypical (ecology vs industrial development) but at the same time we get a unique glimpse into modern South Africa.
As I said, I'm ambivolent... ( )
  Cecilturtle | May 30, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143037927, Paperback)

Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer follows the inner lives of characters confronted by unforeseen circumstances. Paul Bannerman, an ecologist in South Africa, believes he understands the trajectory of his life, with the usual markers of vocation and marriage. But when he's diagnosed with thyroid cancer and, after surgery, prescribed treatment that will leave him radioactive-and for a period a danger to others-he begins to question, as Auden wrote, "what Authority gives / existence its surprise." As Paul recuperates in the garden of his childhood home, he enters an unthinkable existence and another kind of illumination-a process that will irrevocably change not only his life but the lives of his wife and parents. BACKCOVER: "More profound, more searching, more accomplished than what she was writing earlier in her long and distinguished career."
-Los Angeles Times

"Nadine Gordimer's work is endowed with an emotional genius so palpable one experiences it like a finger pressing steadily upon the prose."
-The Village Voice

"A timely novel and a provocative one: a novel to enjoy and ponder, as its characters all do, the dizzying complications inherent in human choice."
-The Washington Times

"I will always be grateful for the presence in the world of Nadine Gordimer, who has delivered in literature a South Africa most of us could not have known without her."
-Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Paul Bannerman, an ecologist living in South Africa, begins to re-examine his life after he is diagnosed with thyroid cancer and begins radiation treatments--an isolating experience that forces him to confront his relationships with family and friends.… (more)

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