Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Being Dead

This cleverly crafted novel from Jim Crace is one of the most unusual books I've read in recent months. In short order, the two main characters are dead and the book begins to twist and turn around the event of their death from several directions until their whole story is finally pieced together.

Crace looks at death from many angles but is very short on sentimentality or in offering any hope of an afterlife. Instead, we watch the two bodies decay (in considerable detail) and get scavenged by birds and insects while we are taken back into their lives to obtain a clear understanding of how and why they ended up where they did. The reader is given this history of their relationship through a complicated weaving back and forth from their early days, to their final days, and finally to the discovery of their dead bodies.

Being Dead is a book that forces contemplation on the meaning and nature of death (nature, perhaps being the key word) whether the reader is ready to do so or not. The author's outlook is not a comforting one to most people, I suspect, but it is certainly one that most readers should consider, if only to contrast it to their own beliefs.

Rated at: 4

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