I really enjoyed reading Foe overall, but I can completely see why some people here may have not enjoyed it so much.
It doesn’t lend itself to explaining certain aspects when it needs to – instead of clarifying certain back stories and messages at times, the text decides to include pointless details and troubling narrative scenarios (do we really need to know that Susan thinks Friday is incompetent every couple pages? Was it not apparent within the first section to the reader?).
However, for me at least, it was far from a dull read. I love the fragments it is broken into – the first being a recounting of life after Susan’s fateful crash on the island, the second being notes to Foe, some of which do not make it, the third being some deeper insight into the contrast between the orator (Susan) and the writer (Foe) and what the fate of her story shall become, and the fourth being some (this is what I gathered from it, anyways) subtle description of Susan murdering Friday, and then offing herself (?).
None of these segments dragged in particular at all, and thankfully the third segment ended with the closest thing as possible to a conclusion – with Foe and Susan engaging sexually for the first time and a glimmer of hope for Friday in terms of writing. Which is perhaps why I so easily dismiss part IV – sure, it left me confused, even after 5-6 re-reads, but the Coetzee seems to ultimately recognize it as an epilogue, full of metaphors and confusing imagery, but at the end of the day, not necessary in affecting the outcomes of any of the characters’ story arches.
One last thing to get off my chest, and perhaps this bugged me the most – when Susan was on the island, with Cruso still alive, she essentially attested to having intercourse with him solely on a purpose of what seems like pity – sympathizing with his loneliness almost entirely as a reason. Maybe women in this seminar could help me clarify this – surely I have never met a man who engaged in intercourse out of pity for his partner…