Paquita Maria Sanchez's Reviews > Blindness

Blindness by José Saramago
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature, portugal

Whoa! This will be a bit scatterbrained. Maybe I will come back later and try to really give this the long, well-thought-out review that it deserves, but right now I am too busy basking in a mix of discomfort and disorientation.

Somewhat important fact concerning this book and my review and rating of it: I saw this movie first, and felt that it (to be totally clear) fucking sucked*, but was fascinated by the plot enough to randomly pick up this novel one day when I so happened to pass a faced-out used copy of it. Basically, I went into it with my judgments high, readier than you could believe to just really hate all up on it. I've been holding on to it for several years, and started reading it the other day for no discernible reason other than the fact that my current poverty, unemployment, and general constant state of having "the Fear" have been driving me toward post-apocalyptic horrorscapes. I can only assume that this is so that I can comfort myself with several different somewhat subconscious thought-patterns, such as "Ehhh, it could always be a lot worse. You could literally be living in rags and surrounded by shit, rather than just figuratively." Well, this novel definitely takes that notion to a whole new level, through the hideous descriptions of the living quarters of the confined blind people, slipping in diarrhea, crawling on all-fours through piles of diarrhea, fucking in diarrhea, sleeping in diarrhea, eating food sitting in crates surrounded by diarrhea, vividly depicted rape scenes with descriptions of all manner of sex fluids mixing with blood and screams of terror and, of course, diarrhea; umm, this is an ugly book. I have a strong stomach, and there were actually 3 or 4 times while reading that I faintly felt like I was going to hurl. It takes a powerful writer to invoke such an emotional response as to actually elicit physical bad feelings, and he does not handle it with disrespect or embrace it simply for its shock value like, for example, that chicken rape scene in Pink Flamingos (aside: fuck that movie). Every element of terror in the book is carefully placed there in order to highlight the tenuous divide between man and beast. I won't bore you or insult your intelligence by explaining the metaphor of "blindness," but I will say that it is used well, and doesn't feel trite despite how sort of terribly obvious it seems.

Be forewarned that the writing style may bother some people. If you were annoyed by the lack of punctuation distinguishing dialogue in The Road, then this book is most certainly not for you, as Saramago gives no formal names to his characters and frequently shifts who is talking in the middle of a sentence along with refusing to punctuate any of the dialogue. I can fall into the stream-of-consciousness style of writing as it is similar to my sloppy, random "thinking style," but I can also see how it is not for everyone. In this instance, it communicates the universality of the experiences the blind are facing, how they are all in the same boat (well, technically mental institution), all victim to the same needs to eat and sleep and defecate and piss and fuck and fight, so it is really of no concern who is speaking, as they are all screaming out the same frustrated banshee yell.

This book is fantastique. Sorry for all the swearing and whatnot, but if you couldn't make it through this review without getting all fussy and wound-up, then you won't make it 50 pages into this kick in the balls of a novel. Consider this coarse review as my way of sparing you.

*To be fair, I think part of me was just really pissed that THIS GUY was the big, mean, evil, rapey, sadistic, sociopathic creep in the movie. Come on! He just makes awkward boob jokes and has no social graces, but he's sweeeeeeeeet and imaginative and stuff, too. Okay, the silly girly-girl in me is done taking over this review, as she has made that nausea I was previously speaking of suddenly return.

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Reading Progress

April 15, 2011 – Started Reading
April 15, 2011 – Shelved
Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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karen thank you for apologizing for your language.

left me scandalized

Paquita Maria Sanchez That's my (fuckin') job! (Sorry, again.)

message 4: by Paquita Maria (last edited Apr 20, 2011 03:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars


karen cowering in terror from onslaught of adult language.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio This reminds me of one of the funniest things I heard a staff member say to one of my gangsta youths early on in my "career" as a stabbing-avoider:

"Watch your fuckin' mouth!"

message 7: by Steve (last edited Apr 20, 2011 05:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Steve I haven't read this, but some books are not meant to be filmed. (I almost threw up at the end of Pink Flamingoes. It could of been the film (very possible with that Doggie in the Window moment), or a midnight combo of a Breakfast Jack & Jack Daniels.) I love your bad-mamajamas shelf.

Paquita Maria Sanchez MFSO: shut yo bitch awww up b4 I beatchyo awwww. Brrr!

P.S. Thanks, Steve!

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Kristi, I don't know when you find time to make hawt aww references to Gucci Mane but I'd like to meet your time-dealer and give 'em a piece of my bitchaww mindbrain.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio P.S. Brrr!

message 13: by Paquita Maria (last edited Apr 21, 2011 10:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paquita Maria Sanchez This makes me feel sneaky:

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I'm just funna say 'Brr!' to e'rythang.

message 15: by Paquita Maria (last edited Apr 21, 2011 10:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paquita Maria Sanchez MyFleshSingsOut wrote: "I'm just funna say 'Brr!' to e'rythang."

I can't believe you somehow managed to turn a review about a book this horrifying into a conversation about shitty (yeah, I said it) rap music. How do you do it?

message 16: by Paquita Maria (last edited Apr 21, 2011 02:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paquita Maria Sanchez I was just reading over this thread, and it occurred to me that I am the one who turned this conversation toward the subject of gangsta rap. What the fuck, dude? Getchyo bitchawww outta my mindbrain.

Also, I never really addressed Steve directly: I'm ambivalent about Jon Waters. He can be funny, and in a distant way I sorta respect him as an "artist" (that kinda hurt to type), but I just hate watching his films. Well, for the most part. I don't know. I watched Pink Flamingos in, let's say, an altered state, which very likely contributed to my hatred of it. War wounds or something, I guess.

message 17: by Sam (new)

Sam Brr! What a great exclamation.

message 18: by Milo (new) - added it

Milo Brr!

message 19: by Brenda (new)

Brenda I did not appreciate all the swearing, but thanks for the warning. I have a weak stomach and by your descriptions this book is obviously not for me.

Nicholle I saw the movie after reading the book and I was disappointed with their adaptation. The book definitely outshines.

Paquita Maria Sanchez Embarrassingly so! That movie is kinda terrible in every way...even with Julianne Moore (who P.T. Anderson taught me to love), as well as Mark Ruffalo and Gael García Bernal (who Gondry taught me to love). Great actors, great source material, terrible movie. How do they do it!?

message 22: by Shaina (new)

Shaina your review is awesome. I am going to add you to my reading friends

message 23: by Stephen M (last edited Mar 22, 2012 07:08PM) (new) - added it

Stephen M Great review and one note about the punctuation. Most books from spanish-speaking countries (that are written in spanish) don't use quotation marks.

Trina I agree with the previous comment regarding the writing style, but this author is Portuguese. His translator did a great job but he obviously left it in its original form.

I was in the same predicament... saw the movie & subsequently the book sat on my shelf for years due to that. Looking forward to reading it now...

message 25: by Louise (new)

Louise Chambers Not sure why people get so twee-timid about "bad language". They need to get out and ride the bus and walk through the park where the homeless are sleeping and the drug dealers are working. Grow a thick skin and get real.

That said, thank you for the great review. And I know I'm supposed to like arty movies like Pink Flamingos, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet. In my youth I tried. But they are bad art plain and simple. And no, art doesn't have to be beautiful to be thoughtful and engaging.

So when an author can shepard us through the minefields of a difficult plot they must be applauded.

Books made into movies should be stopped. The producers will always ruin a well-intentioned project.

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