Ron Christiansen's Reviews > The Pesthouse

The Pesthouse by Jim Crace
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's review
Mar 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi-fantasy, post-apocalyptic
Read from March 10 to 15, 2011

The second paragraph of the prologue made me pause, gave me hope in the book's ability to pull me in:

"But there are always some awake in the small times of the morning--teh lovemakers, for instance, the night workers, the ones with stone-hard beds or aching backs, the ones with nagging consciences or bladders, the sick. And animals of course."

What a lovely, spot on passage, BIG passage. And overall this post-apocalyptic tale did not disappoint as we watch the unlikely pairing of Franklin and Red Margaret, Franklin tenderly pulling the sickness out of Margaret as she suffers abandoned in the pesthouse.

Yet the journey is devastating, in several ways more violent and less hopeful than McCarthy's harrowing The Road. Here too they travel on a road towards the ocean and hope. But this is a world fraught with illness, fear, and calculating marauders who slaughter and laugh. America has been brought down to its knees; there is no liberty or freedom or American Dream.

Crace courageously tries to at once deconstruct the American Dream through fire and pain...and I wanted embrace his new dream built out of the ashes but, ultimately, stood back--book at arm's length--and watched, unable to completely embrace it.

Still, the impossible romance--the tenderness, the humanity amongst hopelessness, the understated understanding--between Franklin and Margaret will remain with me.

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