By Gregory Kirschling
August 02, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II

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Coetzee created the scorchingly realized castaways of the Booker-winning must-reads The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace. His latest memoir reveals how he did it: by making a castaway of himself when he was in his early 20s, isolating himself first at home in South Africa and then in London, all the while pursuing math and computers when he burned for poetry. By referring to himself only in the third person (as he did in his first memoir, Boyhood), ”he” manages to make fun of his own youthful agony at the same time he elevates it to art.

Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II

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