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LocusAmoenus

Locus Amoenus: All By My Shelf

Watch the amazing Locus juggle several books at once, and try not to drop any! Free admission.

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Currently reading

One Corpse Too Many (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 2)
Ellis Peters
Progress: 20%
Shameless: A Sexual Reformation
Nadia Bolz-Weber
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski

Final Thoughts: Las intermitencias de la muerte

Las intermitencias de la muerte - José Saramago

Al día siguiente no murió nadie.

 

 

In his novels, Saramago often liked to explore the deep-reaching consequences of having a single brick removed from the foundation of society, and watching everything come down. In this case, it's death. At the start of the book, we're told that the citizens of an unnamed country have stopped dying. At first, immortality seems like a great deal, but the truth hits home almost immediately. For one, the fact that people aren't dying doesn't mean they're still not aging or having terrible accidents and illnesses. The strain on hospitals and old age homes is devastating, and the funeral industry is desperate. Soon, a maphia (with a ph, as they say, to distinguish themselves from the traditional organization) steps in to "help" by escorting people to the border so they can finally give up the ghost on the other side. Meanwhile, the church is having an existential crisis (since, as they say, their entire mission depends on death) and the government is trying to juggle all these factors. A few months later, death returns, but with a change in MO: those scheduled to die now receive a letter a week before, informing them of their impending fate. Death herself sees this as a good thing; society, of course, does not.

 

The second part of the novel hones in on one prospective recipient of death's (with a small letter d, as she corrects the newspaper editors who try to capitalize it) letter. Inexplicably, the envelope death sends him keeps coming back to her, and she needs to find out why. And here I can't really say any more about the story, because it would spoil what happens next.

 

I believe this book is translated into English as Death with Interruptions, and is definitely worth a read if you haven't explored any of Saramago's work. His writing style is very unique, with few full stops or paragraph breaks, but it flows beautifully in a stream of consciousness way that makes it worth the effort.