45 Books

Book 21

The Pickup - Nadine Gordimer

Thank you Mrs. Walters for lending/recommending this one.  
The Pickup is a really interesting story. I know it sounds like such a stupid sentence, but let me explain. Gordimer's direct, stylistic, bare bones approach to narrative feels very appropriate for the material. I think the reviews of The Pickup (the ones quoted from The Washington Post on the cover) are more dramatic than the story, at least in my experience of it, warrants, but I can't say it wasn't very compelling. Set in 2 unnamed African countries (the first, very apparently, South Africa), an affluent white woman (Julie) "picks up" (yes, I was disappointed at first, so literally) a black immigrant man working as a mechanic. Their relationship with one another is complex but I don't believe I would in any way call it a "love story." Certainly, there is love, unnamed, but they meet on a level neutral ground. Love, no, the only talk of love in the book is limited to a few brief mentions of the absence of talk of love. If I were reading this for high school and had to choose a theme for the novel I think I would choose displacement. For the most part, The Pickup embodies an emotional dryness, which made me feel detached and indifferent to the action of the story during reading. I found that it was in the periods of reflection and recounting, between reading, that the story came alive, remarkable. It really worked for me stylistically.

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