Death with Interruptions

Death with Interruptions

by José Saramago
3.7 36

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Death with Interruptions 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 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.
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!
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KenCady More than 1 year ago
This excellent book takes a look at death from multiple points of view. Many ruminations on death can be found, none get closer than Saramago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago