All the Names by José Saramago


I've been silent for such a long time, I'm making a comeback of sorts with the quick review of Saramago's book. This is my first time to try this author and I am so enamored, I am trying to get a copy of his famous "Blindness." 
Cross-posted on Guiltless Reading.  

The book in one sentence: Senhor Jose's otherwise humdrum life as a clerk in the Central Registry goes topsy-turvy as in the course of collecting info on famous people, he picks up an ordinary woman's birth certificate ... and obsesses to track her down.

Who would you recommend it to: Those who love to get lost in meandering descriptions.

OK bits: I loved this book - but I think you need to get into a state of mind. Don't read this if you're in a rush or looking for a quick read. This is a book to get lost in during a boring rainy day with nothing to do. The story is sparse but how it is told is amazing. Saramago tells it like he were right next to you, conversational and in run-on sentences (in fact some sentences would run on for over a page!). But the voice is clear, honest, direct. I got so drawn into the mundanity of Senhor Jose's life, I actually found myself rooting for

Boring bits: While the book's strength is its prose, it is also its Achilles heel. If you flip through the book and see how dense the paragraphs are, you may just be turned off. Don't be daunted, don't shortchange yourself.

Verdict: Loved it. I'm in awe at how Saramago weaves this tale about loneliness, anonymity and how people naturally seek meaning and identity throughout their lives.

Random quote:
Apart from his first name, Jose, Senhor Jose also has surnames, very ordinary ones, nothing extravagant, one from his father's side, another from his mother's, as is normal, names legitimately transmitted, as we could confirm in the Register of Births in the Central Registry if the matter justified our interest and if the results of that inquiry repaid the labour of merely confirming what we already know.

Links:
  • http://www.powells.com/review/2001_07_19.html
  • http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/0156010593.asp

1 comment

tina said...

your review left me craving for the book...i particularly liked the style of breaking the standard of paragraph reviews and clustering information/views in groups. i think that justifies a work....after all every book has its good and bad parts, often leaving us in a fix whether we liked it or not.

i love novels with thoughts running to as long as pages...looking forward to this. will get back here once i'm through.




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