Death with Interruptions

Death with Interruptions

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Overview

Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's brilliant novel poses the question—what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death?
 
On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots.

Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small d, became human and were to fall in love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547247885
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/02/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 255,131
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

JOSE SARAMAGO is one of the most acclaimed writers in the world today. He is the author of numerous novels, including All the Names, Blindness, and The Cave. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

MARGARET JULL COSTA has established herself as the premier translator of Portuguese literature into English today.

Read an Excerpt

The following day, no one died. this fact, being
absolutely contrary to life’s rules, provoked enormous and, in
the circumstances, perfectly justifiable anxiety in people’s minds,
for we have only to consider that in the entire forty volumes of
universal history there is no mention, not even one exemplary
case, of such a phenomenon ever having occurred, for a whole
day to go by, with its generous allowance of twenty- four hours,
diurnal and nocturnal, matutinal and vespertine, without one
death from an illness, a fatal fall, or a successful suicide, not one,
not a single one. Not even from a car accident, so frequent on
festive occasions, when blithe irresponsibility and an excess of
alcohol jockey for position on the roads to decide who will reach
death first. New year’s eve had failed to leave behind it the usual
calamitous trail of fatalities, as if old atropos with her great
bared teeth had decided to put aside her shears for a day. There
was, however, no shortage of blood. Bewildered, confused, distraught,
struggling to control their feelings of nausea, the firemen
extracted from the mangled remains wretched human
bodies that, according to the mathematical logic of the collisions,
should have been well and truly dead, but which, despite
the seriousness of the injuries and lesions suffered, remained
alive and were carried off to hospital, accompanied by the shrill
sound of the ambulance sirens. None of these people would die
along the way and all would disprove the most pessimistic of
medical prognoses, There’s nothing to be done for the poor
man, it’s not even worth operating, a complete waste of time,
said the surgeon to the nurse as she was adjusting his mask. And
the day before, there would probably have been no salvation for
this particular patient, but one thing was clear, today, the victim
refused to die. And what was happening here was happening
throughout the country. Up until the very dot of midnight
on the last day of the year there were people who died in full
compliance with the rules, both those relating to the nub of
the matter, i.e. the termination of life, and those relating to the
many ways in which the aforementioned nub, with varying degrees
of pomp and solemnity, chooses to mark the fatal moment.
One particularly interesting case, interesting because of
the person involved, was that of the very ancient and venerable
queen mother. At one minute to midnight on the thirty- first of
december, no one would have been so ingenuous as to bet a
spent match on the life of the royal lady. With all hope lost, with
the doctors helpless in the face of the implacable medical evidence,
the royal family, hierarchically arranged around the bed,
waited with resignation for the matriarch’s last breath, perhaps
a few words, a final edifying comment regarding the moral ed-
ucation of the beloved princes, her grandsons, perhaps a beautiful,
well- turned phrase addressed to the ever ungrateful memory
of future subjects. And then, as if time had stopped, nothing
happened. The queen mother neither improved nor deteriorated,
she remained there in suspension, her frail body hovering
on the very edge of life, threatening at any moment to tip
over onto the other side, yet bound to this side by a tenuous
thread to which, out of some strange caprice, death, because it
could only have been death, continued to keep hold. We had
passed over to the next day, and on that day, as we said at the
beginning of this tale, no one would die.
It was already late afternoon when the rumor began to
spread that, since the beginning of the new year, or more precisely
since zero hour on this first day of january, there was no
record in the whole country of anyone dying. You might think,
for example, that the rumor had its origins in the queen mother’s
surprising resistance to giving up the little life that was left to
her, but the truth is that the usual medical bulletin issued to the
media by the palace’s press office not only stated that the general
state of the royal patient had shown visible signs of improvement
during the night, it even suggested, indeed implied,
choosing its words very carefully, that there was a chance that
her royal highness might be restored to full health. In its initial
form, the rumor might also have sprung, naturally enough,
from an undertaker’s, No one seems to want to die on this first
day of the new year, or from a hospital, That fellow in bed
twenty- seven can’t seem to make up his mind one way or the
other, or from a spokesman for the traffic police, It’s really odd,
you know, despite all the accidents on the road, there hasn’t been
a single death we can hold up as a warning to others. The rumor,
whose original source was never discovered, although, of course,
this hardly mattered in the light of what came afterward, soon
reached the newspapers, the radio and the television, and immediately
caused the ears of directors, assistant directors and
editors- in- chief to prick up, for these are people not only
primed to sniff out from afar the major events of world history,
they’re also trained in the ability, when it suits, to make those
events seem even more major than they really are. In a matter
of minutes, dozens of investigative journalists were out on the
street asking questions of any joe schmo who happened by, while
the ranks of telephones in the throbbing editorial offices stirred
and trembled in an identical investigatory frenzy. Calls were
made to hospitals, to the red cross, to the morgue, to funeral directors,
to the police, yes, all of them, with the understandable
exception of the secret branch, but the replies given could be
summed up in the same laconic words, There have been no
deaths. A young female television reporter had more luck when
she interviewed a passer- by, who kept glancing alternately at her
and at the camera, and who described his personal experience,
which was identical to what had happened to the queen mother,
The church clock was striking midnight, he said, when, just before
the last stroke, my grandfather, who seemed on the very
point of expiring, suddenly opened his eyes as if he’d changed
his mind about the step he was about to take, and didn’t die.
The reporter was so excited by what she’d heard that, ignoring
all his pleas and protests, No, senhora, I can’t, I have to go to the
chemist’s, my grandfather’s waiting for his prescription, she
bundled him into the news car, Come with me, your grandfather
doesn’t need prescriptions any more, she yelled, and ordered the
driver to go straight to the television studio, where, at that precise
moment, everything was being set up for a debate between
three experts on paranormal phenomena, namely, two highly
regarded wizards and a celebrated clairvoyant, hastily summoned
to analyze and give their views on what certain wags, the
kind who have no respect for anything, were already beginning
to refer to as a death strike. The bold reporter was, however, laboring
under the gravest of illusions, for she had interpreted the
words of her interviewee as meaning that the dying man had,
quite literally, changed his mind about the step he was about to
take, namely, to die, cash in his chips, kick the bucket, and so
had decided to turn back. Now, the words that the happy grandson
had pronounced, As if he’d changed his mind, were radically
different from a blunt, He changed his mind. An elementary
knowledge of syntax and a greater familiarity with the elastic
subtleties of tenses would have avoided this blunder, as well as
the subsequent dressing- down that the poor girl, scarlet with
shame and humiliation, received from her immediate superior.
Little could they, either he or she, have imagined that these
words, repeated live by the interviewee and heard again in
recorded form on that evening’s news bulletin, would be interpreted
in exactly the same mistaken way by millions of people,
and that an immediate and disconcerting consequence of this
would be the creation of a group firmly convinced that with the
simple application of will-power they, too, could conquer death
and that the undeserved disappearance of so many people in the
past could be put down solely to a deplorable weakness of will
on the part of previous generations. But things would not stop
there. People, without having to make any perceptible effort,
continued not to die, and so another popular mass movement,
endowed with a more ambitious vision of the future, would declare
that humanity’s greatest dream since the beginning of time,
the happy enjoyment of eternal life here on earth, had become
a gift within the grasp of everyone, like the sun that rises every
day and the air that we breathe. Although the two movements
were both competing, so to speak, for the same electorate, there
was one point on which they were able to agree, and that was
on the nomination as honorary president, given his eminent status
as pioneer, of the courageous veteran who, at the final moment,
had defied and defeated death. As far as anyone knows,
no particular importance would be given to the fact that grandpa
remained in a state of profound coma, which everything seems
to indicate is irreversible.
Although the word crisis is clearly not the most appropriate
one to describe these extraordinary events, for it would be
absurd, incongruous and an affront to the most basic logic to
speak of a crisis in an existential situation that has been privileged
by the absence of death, one can understand why some
citizens, zealous of their right to know the truth, are asking
themselves, and each other, what the hell is going on with the
government, who have so far given not the slightest sign of life.
When asked in passing during a brief interval between two
meetings, the minister for health had, it is true, explained to
journalists that, bearing in mind that they lacked sufficient information
to form a judgment, any official statement would, inevitably,
be premature, We are collating data being sent to us
from all over the country, he added, and it’s true to say that no
deaths have been reported, but, as you can imagine, we have
been as surprised as everyone else by this turn of events and are
not as yet ready to formulate an initial theory about the origins
of the phenomenon or about its immediate and future implications.
He could have left the matter there, which, considering
the difficulties of the situation, would have been a cause for gratitude,
but the well- known impulse to urge people to keep calm
about everything and nothing and to remain quietly in the fold
whatever happens, this tropism which, among politicians, especially
if they’re in government, has become second nature, not
to say automatic or mechanical, led him to conclude the conversation
in the worst possible way, As minister responsible for
health, I can assure everyone listening that there is absolutely no
reason for alarm, If I understand you correctly, remarked the
journalist in a tone that tried hard not to appear too ironic, the
fact that no one is dying is, in your view, not in the least alarming,
Exactly, well, those may not have been my precise words,
but, yes, that, essentially, is what I said, May I remind you, minister,
that people were dying even yesterday and it would never
have occurred to anyone to think that alarming, Of course not,
it’s normal to die, and dying only becomes alarming when
deaths multiply, during a war or an epidemic, for example,
When things depart from the norm, You could put it like that,
yes, But in the current situation, when, apparently, no one is
prepared to die, you call on us not to be alarmed, would you not
agree with me, minister, that such an appeal is, at the very least,
somewhat paradoxical, It was mere force of habit, and I recognize
that I shouldn’t have applied the word alarm to the current
situation, So what word would you use, minister, I only ask because,
as the conscientious journalist I hope I am, I always try,
where possible, to use the exact term. Slightly irritated by the
journalist’s insistence, the minister replied abruptly, I would use
not one word, but six, And what would those be, minister, Let
us not foster false hopes. This would doubtless have provided a
good, honest headline for the newspaper the following day, but
the editor- in- chief, having consulted his managing editor,
thought it inadvisable, from the business point of view as well,
to throw this bucket of icy water over the prevailing mood of
enthusiasm, Let’s go for the usual headline, New Year, New Life,
he said.
In the official communiqué, broadcast late that night, the
prime minister confirmed that no deaths had been recorded
anywhere in the country since the beginning of the new year, he
called for moderation and a sense of responsibility in any evaluations
and interpretations of this strange fact...

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR JOSÉ SARAMAGO

"Saramago is arguably the greatest writer of our time . . . He has the power to throw a dazzling flash of lightning on his subjects, an eerily and impossibly prolonged moment of clarity that illuminates details beyond the power of sunshine to reveal."—Chicago Tribune "Reading the Portuguese writer José Saramago, one quickly senses the presence of a master."—The Christian Science Monitor

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Death with Interruptions 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Jilseponie More than 1 year ago
Saramago's writing style was a little strange, to say the least: a sentence could go on for five or more lines, a paragraph could go on for two pages, and dialogue wasn't marked with quotation marks or even new paragraphs. But the story. As of the last stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, no one died. In the entire country. That's not to say everyone became healthy. If you were on the verge of death at 11:59 New Year's Eve, you were on the verge of death two weeks later. You just cannot die. The government starts to try and deal with the immediate and foreseeable problems involved in running a country that will age, but won't die. And then, months later, death sends a letter to the head of the television bureau that starting at the last stroke of midnight, everyone who should have dies in the previous months will die and now, to be polite, death will send out letters one week prior to dying so people can get their affairs in order. Oh yeah, this one's strange.
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
The following day, no one died. And so begins another strange and beautiful novel by Jose Saramago. For the next 150 pages or so Saramago explores the ramifications of life without death. In those pages we encounter no plot, follow no characters; it's basically a long essay. Looked at one way you could say that the first two thirds of the book are there to provide context for the story contained in the final third. This might sound like an awful way to go about writing a novel, and for most writers it probably is. But this is Jose Saramago, and he treats us to an intense, intelligent, and witty view of what a world without death might look like. As the initial joy of immortality begins to wear off we are confronted with the logistical and psychological nightmare that is the absence of death. Hospitals and families forced to forever care for the permanently dying; undertakers, funeral directors, and gravediggers out of business; a government forced to deal with an ever growing, never dying population. Really the only two sectors of society that come out on top are organized crime and the insurance companies. Don't they always? And then we meet death, with a small d, who while conducting her little experiment has run into a situation she has never before encountered. The story that unfolds is one of the most touching and beautiful you'll ever read. Saramago's stream-of-consciousness writing style may at first seem daunting, with few periods and even fewer paragraphs, but put away your preconceived notions about punctuation and you'll find that the narrative flows smoothly, and that the style is perfect for the content.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have given this book five stars. I did not love it when I first started reading it, in fact, I almost put it down. The prose made my head hurt.  No punctuation, subject and object twisted around so I had to slow down and untangle the pronouns, assign my own quotation marks, deliberately construct the narrative in my head. The sense of time and space swelled, then contracted until I wasn't sure what was going on or if I cared. That's when I almost stopped reading. But. The book had been my pick for book club and since I had saddled these ladies with such a challenging book (over the holidays! - this based on an NPR book review that raved about the book as though it was a tasty read of broad appeal), I knew I darn well better finish reading it. So I did what I was taught to do in college. I went back to the beginning. And this time I read the frequently over-looked epigraph and found that Mr. Saramago had generously given his readers the Rosetta Stone to his befuddling prose, a quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein: "If, for example, you were to think more deeply about death, then it would be truly strange if, in so doing, you did not encounter new images, new linguistic fields." Ah. I was reading the syntax of the dead, or, as it turns out, the syntax of death personified. (compare loosely with James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake) Mr. Saragamo was treating me to a point of view, the new imagery of a world seen from a plane, a dimension, from which humans rarely get to observe their world. Once I recognized this and agreed to allow myself to read the book from this perspective, I was able to experience my world as the stranger, Death, does.  And as I got to the end of the book, sympathizing with a character I never would imagine meeting much less come understand - Death - I realized that the other epigraph had become true (for me): "We will know less and less what it means to be human." - Book of Predictions Obviously, this book touched me deeply and left me how a book should - my perspective forever changed in a way it would not have been had I not read it. I'd never read any of Jose Saramago's books before this one, nor have I read any since (shame on me). I had no expectations - though I did not expect the book to be such a puzzle.  My advice for prospective readers: this will not be a quick and easy read. Pages cannot be scanned for plot points or skipped over entirely (one of my favorite reading tricks for easy fiction). The first 30 pages or so might be frustrating - until the syntax of the dead becomes second nature. After that, the book becomes a much easier read. I urge you to try it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise and treatment are original and the insights tickle rather than provoke. What would happen if, in one particular country, no one could die? Saramago treats it as an organizational problem for the government, the health care system, for families, the Church.... with wonderful insights about all. Smiles and chuckles everywhere. But a sense of immediacy is missing. The story-telling is at some distance from the story. The ending chapters, although dealing with an extension of the core theme, seem like part of a different book. For me, Saramago really found the heart of his story here -- with all the immediacy of warm breath on a cheek. I would have loved to have seen the end story form the basis of a whole book.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The inevitable force of death has decided to desert one unnamed country. Naturally, at first its citizens are euphoric, imagining themselves specially singled out, given the hope of eternal life in a new millennium. But as the novel plays itself out, the logistics and ramifications of a society without death become quickly apparent. Medical resources are strained to their limit - people don't stop aging or decaying, just stop dying at a proper time - and religions have lost a cornerstone of their function without either death or the presumed afterlife. This is the first half of the novel: the prose goes through the impact upon this society in an interesting mental exercise. As it progresses I felt more and more aware about how we have in some ways created a culture of death for ourselves - a fact only made apparent when death is taken away.The second half of the novel gets to know death in a more personal way. An unusual incarnation, death (with a small d) lives as a young woman alone in her apartment, occupying most of her day talking to her scythe and writing out letters informing people of their imminent deaths - now given a week in advance, as a compromise and improvement upon the old way of an unexpected death. Yet, when she tracks down a cellist whose fatal letter returns to her unopened, humanity encounters death in a new way. A dialogue and two-way relationship, wherein death learns simple pleasures of life and gets to know human existence better. So yes, it's kind of the inverse of the Christian Incarnation. Death is not a terrifying force to be feared and defeated, but something small and very human herself, a part of life rather than its antagonist.
Big_Bang_Gorilla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In which a bemused nation finds that nobody there dies any more. This is a very familiar premise to fans of interwar drama and movies such as "On Borrowed Time" and "Death Takes a Holiday", but this is a very different beast. The first half of the book is mostly a series of vignettes which the author uses as a launching pad to ruminate on various social institutions such as church, crowd, and state. The second half of the book resembles a novel a little more closely. I found this very non-entertaining, and although it was at times thought-provoking, his lucubrations on this-n-that are extremely involuted. In addition, his style is abrasively off-putting. The book is underpunctuated (I had my fill of e. e. cummings in junior high, thank you very much) and he revels in stylistic tics such as misspelling one of his most frequently used words throughout.
KRM35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was darkly funny throughout and reminded me of much of Kundera's works. Would highly reccomend as an intro to Saramago.
njah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Saramago, slow start interesting finish. Humorous, plan to read 'Blindness' next.
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Satire is the use of humor to promote improvement in an individual, the government, or an institution. I have always considered Saramago¿s novels to be satiric, but with a subtle streak of fun. Death with Interruptions is no exception, but the final chapters are really a hoot!Saramago¿s Blindness was a little like Camus¿ The Plague, and Death is a little like Blindness in some respects. Like several of his novels, it is set in an unnamed country, and this time the characters have no names, only titles: president, director, minister, cellist, king, and prime minister. Saramago uses long, complicated sentences with commas, periods, and an occasional apostrophe. He never uses question marks, exclamation points, or colons, semi or otherwise. The only letters capitalized are those following a period, those beginning a new statement in a conversation, and the letter I when death (not capitalized) refers to herself. Here is an example of what I mean: ¿Death is sitting there, on a narrow crimson-upholstered chair, and starring fixedly at the first cellist, the one she watched while he was asleep and who wears striped pajamas, the one who owns a dog that is, at this moment, sleeping in the sun in the garden, waiting for his master to return. That is her man, a musician, nothing more, like the almost one hundred other men and women seated in a semicircle around their personal shaman, the conductor, and all of whom will, one day, in some future week or month or year, receive a violet-colored letter and leave the place empty, until some other violinist, flautist or trumpeter comes to sit in the same chair, perhaps with another shaman waving a baton to conjure forth sounds, life is an orchestra which is always playing, in tune or out, a titanic that is always sinking and always rising to the surface, and it is then that it occurs to death that she would be left with nothing to do if the sunken ship never managed to rise again, singing the evocative song sung by the waters as they cascade from her decks, like the watery song, dripping like a murmuring sigh over her undulating body, sung by the goddess amphitrite at her birth, when she becomes she who circles the seas, for that is the meaning of the name she was given¿ (188-89). Death has decided to send violet colored letters to individuals whom she has scheduled for death in seven days.This excerpt constitutes two-thirds of a page of a five-page paragraph. Not exactly stream of consciousness, but it does require close attention to stay on Saramago¿s wagon.His dialogue is not broken into individual statements but is simply blended into the paragraph. Here follows a brief example of a conversation between the scythe and death, who has made a mistake and failed to deliver a letter to a man while he was forty-nine. The birthday has passed and he is still alive: ¿You can¿t do that, said the scythe, It¿s done, There¿ll be consequences, Only one, What¿s that, The death, at last, of that wretched cellist who¿s been having a laugh at my expense. But the poor man doesn¿t know he is supposed to be dead, As far as I¿m concerned, he might as well know it, Even so, you don¿t have the authority to change an index card, That¿s where you¿re wrong, I have all the power and authority I need, I¿m death,¿ (184).Saramago is always great fun. He also wrote The Stone Raft (Spain and Portugal float off into the Atlantic), and All the Names about a clerk in a government ministry in charge of vital statistics, who becomes obsessed with a stranger on a card stuck to one he was updating. Saramago won the Nobel Prize a few years back, and I highly recommend him for some fun, absorbing reading. 5 stars--Jim, 5/6/09
getupkid10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great at some points, but often boring and long-winded story.
Clara53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a paradox: a book that has the word "death" as part of its title leaves me with a wonderful feeling upon reading it... Jose Saramago has his unique style and touch. He turns the most ubiquitous of situations into something that stuns you and makes you pause and think...
BCCJillster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was enthralled by the Cave and Blindness by Saramago, so I was prepared for his style. But I was disappointed by the failure to make his wonderful beginning as compelling as his other books. The premise had such possibilities, but it felt like he wrote an essay on the effect of (the absence of) death on society rather than a novel peopled with characters. Although his tongue is still firmly planted in his cheek, and I found myself 'whooping' out loud several times with sheer delight at a ludicrous touch, the first part of the book is too dry and impersonal. Most people I know preferred the first half, especially for the ideas debated. And they were truly intriguing. But ironically, the book only came 'alive' for me when death entered as a character. I couldn't believe I was empathizing with She Who Must be Avoided, but I certainly was. And as her dilemma grew, so did my compassion.Yes, these seem like two folk-tales loosely bound together, very different in mood and challenge. Overall, I was quite disappointed until the last third, even though in retrospect the ending seems somewhat inevitable, I couldn't help saying out loud "Oh Cool!"My book group much preferred the first half, at least those who bothered to finish and I can certainly understand why. But I was able to relate to the second tale and I can't wait to hear what others thougt of The End.
nelsonpj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating story, I was amazed and how he gradually revealed the various consequences that occur when people no longer are dying.The introduction of the devil, her new approach to death and what happens when one death announcement letter keeps coming back; and the ending of the book kept me guessing. One of my all-time favourite reads.
michaelbartley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!! Saramoago is a writer that demands a great deal from his reader, but he gives even more. In a small un named European country, death stops, that is the first part of this very small novel. At first there is joy then there is chaos. That inself is interesting but in a strange way ordinatory. Where the book becomes very interesting, when we meet the character death, now the novel becomes a rich myth. Myth in the way that Joseph Campbell wrote about myth a way to talk about something that we can't talk about in ordinatory ways. Death falls in love. I love this book
seidchen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Death with Interruptions" is the lightest of Saramago's books I have read and the most pointedly witty in its social criticism. Perhaps attempting to embody so serious an abstraction as death invariably leads to a degree of frivolity--there are certainly precedents in this case, to which Saramago doesn't cease to delight in gesturing. I found this a quick, fun and thought-provoking read.
Megabaker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the beginning better than the end, but enjoyed the logistical implications of death's non-arrival the best. A dark humor is needed.
tori_alexander on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a reviewer, there are two things you'll want to know about me before bothering to read further. I only like literary fiction, and I only like literary fiction that's a bit "difficult," in one way or another, style or theme, preferably both. A good theme for me might include controversial social issues, human paradoxes, ethical puzzles-- problems to which there are no easy solutions. The concerns of unmarried 32-year-old woman and the plight of a middle-aged man whose affair is petering out are not real "problems," in my view, nor is the temporary loss of faith in God or humanity. A good style for me pays attention to the sounds of words; it's poetic. I like uncommon words as these tend to be a little more fresh (they make you look harder) and concise. I dislike intensely "transparent" narration, and I prefer first-person narratives, with plenty of thoughts described. In my opinion, the most important function novels serve is that they allow one to vicariously experience another's point of view. I like narrators with plenty of personality. And, if this isn't a third thing, a writer that has all of the above ought also to have a good sense of irony and humor. Jose Saramago's Death with Interruptions is thematically appealing to me. It is a comedy (and not really a dark one, despite its subject), whose main protagonist (in the first half of the book) is a society, not a person, a society whom death has decided to abandon. The way Saramago gets to this problem is original, to say the least. The problem itself is common, the question of euthanasia. The best parts of the book occur when the omniscient narrator momentarily dips down close to a single family who take their perpetually dying patriarch and infant child across the border where death is still active. This family's problem is complex and terrible, and they face it with dignity and care. But this passage is brief. Most of the time the narrator describes the mind of a group. Groups are usually dull-witted and predictable compared to individuals. Stylistically, the novel is plain, or at least the English translation by Margaret Jull Costa is. But the narrator does have a personality. He's got a good ironic sense of humor. He's kind to the people he satirizes, and he is not above any of the human foibles he describes. In the second half the protagonist death falls in love with a man she fails to kill. There are two lessons: society learns not to take death for granted: she's needed. Death learns what its like to not want to lose someone. In sum, it does not have everything I want in a novel, but it's a nice little fable, gently told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so much of throwing words at you ujtil you have lost count how many pages have gone by in one sentence. There was never a climax or resolution. I finished this book out of sheer cussedness and was never so glad to be done in my life. Did not teach me anything, gave me absolutely nothing to think about and had one of those ending where you are left wondering what was the point. So sorry to have wasted both time and money onn this. Boring beyond belief.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very Creative, heart-warming, yet dark!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago