Paul Bannerman, an ecologist in Africa, believes he controls the trajectory of his life, with the markers of vocation and marriage. But when he's diagnosed with thyroid cancer and prescribed treatment that makes him radioactive and for a period a danger to others, he questions, as Auden wrote, 'What authority gives/ Existence its surprise.' Taken ...
Paul Bannerman, an ecologist in Africa, believes he controls the trajectory of his life, with the markers of vocation and marriage. But when he's diagnosed with thyroid cancer and prescribed treatment that makes him radioactive and for a period a danger to others, he questions, as Auden wrote, 'What authority gives/ Existence its surprise.' Taken in by his parents, businessman Adrian and successful lawyer Lyndsay, to protect his wife and child from radiation, back in his childhood garden he faces the contradiction between the values of his conservation work and those of his wife, an advertising agency executive. While threat of projects to build a nuclear reactor and drain the country's vital wetlands preoccupy Paul, the strange state of his existence leads his mother to face her own past. With Paul cured and normality apparently returned, his parents take a holiday in Mexico to fulfil the archaeological vocation his father missed. The consequence of this is the final surprise of passionate existences.
New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. First edition, with full number line. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 187 p. Audience: General/trade. After being treated for thyroid cancer, South African ecologist Paul Bannerman finds that he is temporarily radioactive and retreats to his childhood home to protect his wife and child--and to rethink his life--in this tale from the 1991 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-09-12 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
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