Dustin's Reviews > Being Dead

Being Dead by Jim Crace
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Mar 02, 09

Read in March, 2009

This probably should have been a short story. The characters were too flat to be interesting for 200 pages. Crace paints their lives in absolutes. They always sleep in separate beds, Joseph always says "I'm too short to do (whatever)". They're characters with catchphrases and static manners of being: passionless, dull, dissatisfied. Which maybe is appropriate given that the novel is about the moment they fell in love and the moment they die, but that doesn't make it interesting. Why couldn't they have had interesting lives in between? A short story would have made it a moot point.

The best parts of the book are the descriptions of the decaying bodies, the "life after death" of decomposition, and the initial structure of the book which interweaves this with a backwards account of their last day, starting with getting clubbed in the head and working back to when they woke up. But even that eventually gives way to the incredibly boring tale of the couple's daughter looking for her parents, which we know have been dead for 100 pages or so. The daughters section is full of obvious observations and cliche and an insistence on atheism, which, whatever, its boring. Throw in a completely unnecessary burning building and the death of an entirely peripheral character and, again, you have what could have been a short story, bloated and swollen and full of maggots.
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