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The Double by José Saramago
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Sep 24, 07

Recommended for: people who're fond of magical realism

I figured out the inevitable ending of this book about halfway through it, but getting to the end was certainly not tedious . The language (lyrically translated by Margaret Costa) is full of unusual but vivid imagery ("...she had noticed a kind of embarassed catch in his voice, a disharmony that occasionally distorted his delivery, like the characteristic vibrato produced by a cracked water jar when struck with the knuckles"), and the novel is filled with sophisticated phrases that fit oddly well with the scrupulously average protagonist without feeling false or forced. Even the author's tendency to combine what ought to be three pages of dialogue into one run-on sentence (strung along by obsessively linked commas) feels natural and comprehensible after the first few instances.
Though the plot may feel slightly hackneyed at first glance('The Prince and the Pauper' goes awry)the brilliance of the execution saves it from any such accusation overall. This is a wonderful and diverting choice for anyone willing to engage in the slight relinquishment of common sense that this novel (and the genre) requires.
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