Having heard the name, "J.M. Coetzee," dropped at a Cambridge dog-park, a fine place to listen for an elusive literary reference or amusing, critical waltz, I sought after this author, "the nape of good hope," as he was praisingly referred to by a man with all the poor nature of his notoriously ill-intentioned mix-of-poodle. Smiles of pure generosity; few understood his meaning at the time. Well, turns out, there was little hope allowed for in the persistently unsentimental treatment of both character and action in "Life and Times...," but much, however, contained in the sight and stylistic mastery of its author, Coetzee. One hears Coetzee accused of a kind of provinciality; I do not know -- but, I certainly think: dear god, not here. An author so able to give a simple, though elegant, philosophical meaning to the life and bad circumstance of such an assumedly vulgar typicality as Michael K is due a massive hats-off. In the absence of humor or ironic caricature is the stark progression of a gardener through territory made infertile for it. This telling is a third-person, as they say, omniscient account; but nonetheless we are most often peering about through the dull eyes of Michael, though not from his unfathoming conscience, at catastrophe. The view is as oppressive as the worst hour on the Warner Brothers Network though in its sureness-fired. Instead of commercially absurd, it is cruelly convincing in its work-a-day insufferability. Hats-off to its author; although I wonder who in this day will labor such a stolid voice as his. Nevermind it, good art here, Coetzee is champion.