Get a life

by Gordimer, Nadine.

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Bethel Park Public Library Fiction FIC GORDIMER Nadine
Location  Bethel Park Public Library
Collection  Fiction
Call Number  FIC GORDIMER Nadine

A young man's treatment for cancer inspires profound changes in his family.

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, for a period a danger to others, he begins to question, as Auden wrote, "what Authority gives / existence its surprise."

In the garden of his childhood home, where his businessman father, Adrian, and prominent civil rights lawyer mother, Lyndsay, take him in to protect his wife and child from radiation, he enters an unthinkable existence and another kind of illumination: the contradiction between the values of his work and those of his wife, Benni, an ad agency executive. His mother is transformed by the strange state of her son's existence to face her own past. Meanwhile, projects to build a nuclear reactor and drain vital wetlands preoccupy Paul as if he were at work. By the time he is cured, both families have been changed. On his return to his home and career, his parents go to Mexico to fulfill the archaeological vocation Adrian sacrificed to support his family. The consequence of this trip is the final surprise in this extraordinary exploration of passionate individual existences.

"This novel begins superbly and ends wonderfully, and in between there are passages of high intelligence, not without Gordimer's signature asperity." -- Ward Just, The Washington Post Book World

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "For more than 50 years, the groundbreaking fiction of Nobel Prize-winning Gordimer has told the human story of a changing South Africa, from the apartheid era to today. Her latest novel is rooted in her native Johannesburg, and it is that inside view of people across race and class that is most exciting here, even as the story reaches out to universal issues of conservation. Paul Bannerman is an ecologist, passionate about his work with his multiracial wilderness team, but when he develops thyroid cancer, the radiation treatment makes him a radioactive threat. Suddenly, at 35, the white conservationist is the leper, and he must move into an isolated wing of his parents' home. He recovers, but the metaphor of the untouchable is always there, including the quiet parallel of the family's adoption of a black foundling with AIDS born not in a manger but in a public toilet. Paul loves his wife, but he realizes that her advertising projects with both foreign and government clients in the leisure industry are a looming disaster. The conservation message is strong--tourism's lure of quick jobs for the poor and desperate; the danger of dams, toll roads, nuclear reactors to the wilderness and all living things. Above all, there is the intimate story of the untouchable in your home and in yourself. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The phrase "late work" is usually reserved for masters, and it is appropriate to this 14th novel from Gordimer, whose cruel meditations on mortality and commitment are enacted within two marriages a generation apart. Paul Bannerman, a 35-year-old activist ecologist who works to prevent development of the South African bush, is diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Following radiation treatment, he stays with his parents, Adrian and Lyndsay; his ad exec wife, Berenice (Benni), and toddler son, Nicholas, visit him, but must avoid contact with Paul while he's radioactive. During Paul's stay, Gordimer sounds the depths of Paul and Benni's connection (shallow but sometimes tender) and replays Adrian and Lyndsay's turbulent (but on the surface, placid) past together. Paul and Benni's professional lives are at odds (she does ads for developers); Adrian chucked a potential career as an archeologist to advance Lyndsay's as a lawyer. When Paul returns home, change comes very rapidly-and dramatically-for everyone. Gordimer's narrator is chilly, remote and omniscient, toying with the characters and taking shots at them at almost every opening, particularly the two career-women: "How girlishly exciting it must have been," says the narrator of Lyndsay's past affair, begun at a conference. Paul's vulnerable, mortal body and everyone's life choices are relentlessly, tauntingly picked over in a manner that is spare and quick to the point of offhandedness. The result is a lacerating novel, one in which conflicted professional and domestic lives are played for all their contradictory possibility. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Ecologists -- Fiction.
Quarantine -- Fiction.
Cancer -- Patients -- Fiction.
Cancer -- Treatment -- Fiction.
Ecologists -- Family relationships -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :Farrar, Straus and Giroux,2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 187 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 0374161704 (hardcover : alk. paper)
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