It seems like all of DuBus' characters constantly make the wrong choices, so much so, that I just want to reach my hand into the pages of his novels aIt seems like all of DuBus' characters constantly make the wrong choices, so much so, that I just want to reach my hand into the pages of his novels and start slapping away at their faces. That said, their flaws are truly what make them so interesting and so real.
House of Sand and Fog is great read, even if it does go on twenty-five pages or so more than it needs to....more
Check it, so there’s this religious cult right, and they off themselves Heaven’s Gate style, but a few members survive and go on to live in the outsidCheck it, so there’s this religious cult right, and they off themselves Heaven’s Gate style, but a few members survive and go on to live in the outside world. One by one those members commit suicide (or do they?) until there’s just our hero, Tender Branson, left as the one surviving member. He’s dictating his life story into the black box recorder of a plane he’s hijacked that’s set to crash somewhere in Australia.
Got all that? Good. Now throw in some assisted suicide, porn, truck driving cross country, the ability to foresee the future, arranged marriage, sex, the super bowl, disaster, birth, and you’ve got your typical Chuck Palahnuik novel.
I’m not knocking the guy, he does have a point. Seriously, no one cares about books all that much anymore. When was the last time a book was banned in the United States? I think you’d have to go all the way back to Naked Lunch. Chuck’s ability to create and manipulate situations to their absurd extreme truly is a gift. He makes us look at things we take for granted every day in new and different light, but sadly he’s not that great of a writer.
If he’d just step out of his comfort zone for once and leave his “blueprint” for a successful novel behind we might just get something truly unique. Instead, we’re subjected to the same format, over and over and over again. It’s extremely difficult to tell where one book’s narrator ends and the next begins because they all think exactly alike.
Under the porn landfill that composes the surface of the bulk of his work there is some amazing social commentary at play. In Survivor Chuck tackles our culture’s obsession with religion, death and our need to be in spotlight and he just about nails it. Newsday even went so far as to compare Chuck’s work to “…DeLillo’s mordant social analysis…” and the comparison is valid, however the voice that was unique early on in his writing has become stale.
Switch it up Chuck, take a risk, and create a character uniquely different for everything that you’ve delivered up to this point, or don’t, I’m sure you’ll make money either way… ...more
Senor Jose, the only character deemed important enough to have a proper name in the novel, is a middle-aged lowly clerk working at the Central Registry of births, marriages and deaths in an unnamed town. He’s performed this same job every day for over twenty years of his life.
Like most people, he has a hobby. His happens to be collecting newspaper articles and clippings about celebrities. He lives in a dwelling attached to the back of the registry which allows him the ability to sneak back in late at night to make copies of celebrity certificates for his collection. One night, purely by accident, everything changes.
While sneaking around in the dark gathering cards he accidentally ends up with one belonging to an unknown middle-aged woman, and just like that his hobby to turns into obsession and with a single-minded focus, the target of his desires becomes this woman. He’s compelled to go to whatever lengths necessary in order to learn all he can about her.
This obsession leads him to trouble as be begins to break more and more rules at work in order to gather as much information about the woman as possible. To make matters worse, his superior, the mysterious figure known only to us as “the Registrar,” seems to have taken a very personal interest in Jose and appears to be monitoring him closely.
I’ve said it before and it’s worth stating again that Saramago’s writing style is not the easiest to digest. He seems to loathe punctuation and paragraph breaks. He writes what feel like extremely long run on sentences. There are no quotation marks or proper formatting when characters are speaking so sometimes a best guess approach is needed when multiple characters are conversing. Very rarely does he give any of his characters proper names, instead choosing to define then by their job title or role in life. It takes a bit of adjusting to, but once you’re acclimated, it’s worth the effort.
Using “All the Names” as his vehicle, Saramago addresses age old questions like: Is anyone ever truly alone? Why do we feel the need to seek comfort through relationships with others? Can obsession be healthy?
Most importantly though, the message that shines through is that every single person is in someway significant and important; everyone has a part to play in the game of life. Collectively, we are “All the Names.”
NOTE: On November 29th, as a publishing experiment, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released the digital e-book equivalent of a boxed set titled “The Collected Novels of Jose Saramago” for $36. This collection contains twelve of his novels translated to English including “All the Names” as well as his most famous work “Blindness” and its sequel “Seeing” and one additional novella. This marks the first time any of Saramago’s work has been made available in the United States electronically. If you’re new to his work this is a reasonably priced, excellent place to start....more