Jenny Blounts's Reviews > Death with Interruptions

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago
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's review
Oct 04, 10

Read from September 08 to October 04, 2010

It feels blasphemous to give a book by Jose Saramago only three stars, but I really did not enjoy this book, as much as I can admire the imagination, philosophy, and finely nuanced writing that it entails. I am holding it up against one of my favorite books of all time--Blindness--and it pales miserably in comparison.

The premise echoes Blindness in some ways. The book begins with an absence of death in this particular country, somewhat ringing familiar from the disease of blindness that swept the country in Blindness. Suddenly, no one is dying. While this seems like a reason to celebrate, it doesn't take long for this society to recognize the many, many problems that arise from such a situation. The government had a lot to figure out, the mafia gets involved, ethical questions never before posed must be dealt with (what does one do, for example, with an elderly relative that is suffering on the brink of death, but cannot die?).

Halfway through the book or so, we meet the character of 'death' and more complications ensue. Things picked up for me at this point in the book simply because I was given a character that I could latch on to. Up until this point, the characters were mere passing entities used to further the plot, not really well-developed individuals that one could care about. For me, it was too little, too late, however. She felt too much like an overwrought metaphor to really evoke much sympathy in me, and the story ultimately fell flat.

There is more to Saramago's writing than plot and character, of course, and the book certainly gave me a lot to ponder about life and death and desire and meaning. The narrator often steps outside of the story to directly address the reader, and Saramago's subtle ironic humor and gorgeous prose are still in tact. However, I found that I wasn't quite as charmed by his cleverness and defiant lack of punctuation as I have been in other novels, and I'm not sure if it's because the novelty has worn off or because, all in all, I just didn't care for the content of the story enough for the style to matter.

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Reading Progress

09/09/2010 page 20
8.0% "Starting a new Saramago book is like coming home, being welcomed back to an unnamed place where bizarre things happen and human truths are revealed. Looking forward to what he has in store for me..."
09/14/2010 page 50
21.0% "In his signature way, Saramago has roped his reader into this world where what seems impossible has become possible--death has ceased to exist. While the structure, ironic tone, and signature rambling sentence structure are almost too much like Blindness and Seeing (is Saramago a one-trick pony?!), I'm still drawn in and interested to see how the characters cope with this surprisingly complicated phenomenon..."
09/17/2010 page 60
25.0% "Ugh. As much as I love and admire Saramago's style, this is a rough one to stay awake with during these first few exhausting weeks of school....his loooong sentences with only commas to break them up seem to lull me right to sleep. I'm going to keep pushing forward, though!"
09/22/2010 page 75
32.0% "This book continues to go painfully slow for me. It seems be getting increasingly philosophical. Fascinating stuff, but I feel like I'm waiting for the real story to far, there aren't any specific characters to connect with, which makes me feel like I'm just dangling in this bizarre world."
09/26/2010 page 119
50.0% "This book is finally starting to pick up. "Death" has made herself known, explained her experiment, and described her next move..."
10/01/2010 page 161
68.0% "Well, I guess I'll stick it least at this point I have a character to latch onto (albeit, this character is Death herself, who is now alerting people with one week's notice of their impending death...)"

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Charles (new)

Charles Michelson seems that you have gotten to the meat of the story so to speak. hope that the book ends the way you want it to

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Man, I'm so glad to read your review before I tried to read it. I think I'll skip it. I know you liked Seeing based on your star rating, but I just didn't like it at all. Blindness was so amazing, and the sequel just felt empty to me in comparison. I'll definitely skip this one based on what you've said!

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