ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians by ‎J.M. Coetzee

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:55 pm

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We’ve been away for too long.

This summer join us as we roll out our discussion on JM Coetzee’s novel Waiting For the Barbarians. Our tidbits will begin in early July with discussion to follow. Whether you’re a reader or simply eager for the release of this film, we hope you will drop by and explore along with us.

Not familiar with ONBC? We are the book discussion branch of the Zone. For at least fifteen years, Zone staff have been writing about and conducting discussions around books that are somehow "close" to Johnny Depp. Close? He mentioned the book; he was seen carrying the book; he appeared in a film based on the book in question; he was key in getting the book published. Sometimes we've strayed further afield, taking on a book written by a close friend of Johnny's. Interested in past book discussions? See the archives.

Some of you may have participated in book discussions through your local bookstore or library or even with a club. What we do here is similar, but also a little different. Any member or even visitor to the Zone is free to read our tidbits and follow along in our discussions. Because many of our discussion questions are open-ended, you needn't be a reader to participate. Just join the Zone and get involved. I, myself, first joined an ONBC discussion having read very little of the book at hand. I just fell in love with the tidbits and got drawn into the discussion. Proving you can talk about something about which you know very little!

What is a tidbit? Ah, that's where the Zone really stands out. The word "tidbit" is defined as "a small piece of tasty food, or a small and particularly interesting item of gossip or information." These aren't book reports, but rather posts that examine some interesting aspect of the book. It could be something we all anticipate reading about, such as the author's bio, or the history behind the story, or a location map. Then again, it could be a rift on one word, one sentence that got a writer thinking -- women's undergarments in the 1930s, absinthe, 1950s pick-ups, the devil. From time to time we've even been able to lure the author to our table. We love comments as we roll out tidbits, questions also -- as in "how did you ever decide to..." -- but basically the tidbit exists to curry your favor, to tickle your fancy, to open your mind, or just provide a nice beginning or end to your day.

Our tidbits this time will definitely include everything we can learn about the filming of the movie. As in, the director, other cast members, filming sites, etc.

So, until the summer, keep us in mind.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Joni
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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby Joni » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:36 pm

Looking forward to it! I love the tidbits. :lovehearts:

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:43 pm

So do I, Joni, so do I.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:14 pm

Where have you been? :bigwave: Missed y'all and happy for your return. I ordered the book yesterday and awaiting its arrival on Friday! :noodlemantra:

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:41 pm

Ladylinn, thrilled you will be joining us! As to where I've been, here and elsewhere. Some surgery last summer, and an extremely busy school year. But I've been yearning for a good book, and I am so pleased that Johnny is involved with this one. It's a thoughtful, at times intense read, but it moves fast. Been spending time researching the author and thinking about tidbits. Enjoy your read.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:59 pm

If anyone knows of a free reader's study guide to accompany this book, let me know. So far I have found only sources that want you to buy the guide.

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:04 pm

Thank you for the offer, nebraska. Nice resource, too!
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:36 pm

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J.M. Coetzee

The picture above comes from an collection of photographs discovered in 2014 when Coetzee sold his apartment in Cape Town, South Africa. A photo exhibit, "J.M. Coetzee: Photographs from Boyhood" was organized by the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2018, and I came across the picture while reading an article by Jason Farago which appeared in the New York Times on January 16, 2018. It is a stunning photo, isn't it? Coetzee took many of the photos himself.

Hello all!

It’s getting close to that time -- another ONBC discussion. I am currently in a lather researching and writing, finding good pix, and generally organizing. As I mentioned back in April, anyone interested in the upcoming movie Waiting for the Barbarians, whether you’ve read the book or not, is welcome to read along as tidbits are posted, and later when the discussion begins.

A word about tidbits for the book. As is our norm, I will explore a range of topics that surfaced as I read the book. Sometimes tidbits are tiny things, almost incidental, that capture the reader’s notice. Over sixteen years we’ve done tidbits on an eclectic range of subjects. Crazy stuff really, but each article, a small rest stop from which to contemplate life and times. So, a typical tidbit? No such thing, but here are several examples of previous topics and the book that inspired them: The Devil (The Master and Margarita), the History of Soap Opera (Dark Shadows), Loan Sharks (Devil’s Dance), Blini and Caviar (Mortdecai). (Most of these can still be found in the ONBC Archives -- 54 books in all! That shocks even me!)

This time we are dealing with a book where each sentence, and sometimes each word, has consequence. Not that other writers are slap dash about their wordsmanship. But Coetzee is in another league altogether -- every word he writes is present because he intended it that way. Which makes for a brilliant although weighty read. Along with the book, I read a companion text, J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Attwell who studied under Coetzee and who also had access to Coetzee’s papers -- manuscripts, notes and research papers. So, as I read Waiting For the Barbarians I felt I had an interpreter at my side. Someone who could offer insight into Coetzee’s choices and intentions. (And I highly recommend the book.)

Attwell’s book, in turn, helped me in the process of selecting tidbits, and I have tried to pick subjects that I felt were central to the book. In each case, the objective is the same as would be for any tidbit. In other words it’s a “hey, this seems worth examining” rather than a “this is what the writer meant.” It felt like a lighter way to proceed, and hopefully, in the end, one that helps ONBC readers enjoy the book and the discussion even more.

I have also tried to sequence tidbits in a way that they unfold the book -- at least from one reader’s perspective. A peek at the list? Well, okay -- barbarians, the Karoo, South African history, and J.M. Coetzee. ( Of course I left stuff out!)

See you soon!
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby bluebird » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:02 am

I found a book analysis on KindleUnlimited. Just downloaded it so I don’t know if it’s any good or not. Also just bought the book on Kindle and will try and catch up.
The edge … there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. HST

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ONBC's New Read: JM Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:46 pm

Bluebird! Welcome!!

Don't worry about how long you take to read. I swear this book is best when read slowly and considered. I think it took me 6 weeks -- and that's more because I was too busy in other areas of my life, not cause I was mesmerized by the contents of the book. Our discussion won't begin until probably the middle of the third week of August.

So glad you're joining us.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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