Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

Past Reads > Being Dead by Jim Crace, Chapters 12 - 26

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message 1: by George (last edited Oct 01, 2016 05:05PM) (new)

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Please make comments here on Being Dead by Jim Crace, Chapters 12 to 26.

message 2: by Irene (new)

Irene | 545 comments Well, I finally finished this one. The quality of the writing is obvious. But, I can't say I enjoyed it. The descriptions of the rotting corpses, while poetic, never moved me. The lives of the characters were uninteresting. In the end, the book depressed me. It felt very fatalistic. No matter what a person achieves, who a person loves, how a person lives, all end up as worm dinner in the end, nothing more or less, and that may just be the most beautiful part of their existence.

message 3: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Ha. Worm dinner! I know what you mean. The novel left me a little empty at the end, but the writing won me over. He somehow maintained my interest. I hope to read another book or two of his this month.

Just finished Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. What an enjoyable read. Particularly the story, "A Little Burst" where Olive marks a sweater, steals a bra and takes one shoe of a new daughter-in-law, "just to keep the self-doubt alive...Because Christopher doesn't need to be living with a woman who thinks she knows everything."

message 4: by Irene (new)

Irene | 545 comments I want to read more by Jim Crace also. I have looked at several of his titles and his themes are all a bit outside the box. I want to see if another novel, one with a bit less decay, might be more enjoyable.

I loved Olive Kitteridge.

message 5: by Haaze (new)

Haaze | 3 comments An interview with Jim Crace from the Paris Review:

message 6: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Thanks Haaze for highlighting this long but very interesting article. Anyone interested in Jim Crace you will get a lot of useful information from the article. He makes some fascinating comments about his approach to writing novels. Here is a Jim Crace quote that I copied from the article, "to some extent, Being Dead is my attempt to discover a narrative of comfort in the face of death in an increasingly godless universe."

In commenting on his outline for writing Being Dead he states:
"Somewhere along the line I would have written it down on half a page—in fact I remember doing just that. I would have wanted to make sure that the optimism was in the ascendant. Being Dead takes two dead characters and delivers them back alive. It takes a seduction and provides it with an orgasm. These rewards needed to be clustered at the end of the novel, even if it defied the logic of chronology."

message 7: by Penny (new)

Penny | 18 comments Don't agree that a novel has to be "pleasant" to be great (or a character likeable to be interesting re previous Iris Murdoch discussion). But didn't find this one overly stuck on the morbid. In fact kind of refreshingly clear-eyed. And although finished last week, am still thinking about it, which to me is the sign of a great book.

Thanks for the recommendation of an author I knew nothing about previously.

message 8: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
I recently read 'Harvest' by Jim Crace. It's so different from 'Being Dead'. It's a well written novel set in an English village over 100 years ago. Told in the first person by Walter Thirsk, a man in his 40s whose has been working in the village for 12 years. The story takes place over a seven day period and lots happen. Good descriptions of the barley harvest, the local dance, the villagers lifestyle and their distrust of newcomers. Is it to be the last harvest of barley? If sheep replace the need to plough the land, what happens to the villagers?

Also read 'Quarantine' by Jim Crace. An interesting, unpredictable novel. An imaginative account of a 40-day fast in the Judean wilderness by Jesus, Musa, a scoundrel of a merchant, his wife and four other people. Marta who has been married ten years but has produced no children, a small badu villager, Aphas, an old man who is dying and Shim, a tall blond man. All have separately decided to fast for forty days. Musa, (the devil) tempts them all with his produce of dates, fruit, water and other items. Crace's concise, carefully chosen words, provide for an absorbing story of the 40 day quarantine.
Both Quarantine and Harvest were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Jim Crace is certainly a good storyteller. From the novels I have read (including The Pesthouse which I have nearly finished), he takes a different approach to his telling of each story. I have enjoyed all four novels. What is consistent in all four novels, is the carefully worded sentences. My favourite is Being Dead for it's originality and the clever descriptive paragraphs of nature.

message 9: by Irene (new)

Irene | 545 comments I looked at the descriptions of several of those Crase books when I was looking to borrow this one for our discussion. Harvest particularly caught my eye. I hope to read it sometime.

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