Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Book Club Debacle: All the Names October 31, 2008

I just joined a new book club, and the first choice for the club was All the Names by Jose Saramago. He’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is probably best known for his soon-to-be-a-movie book Blindness. Now I, of course, being the classic good student made sure that I read every page, and it wasn’t easy. It’s 238 pages of Kafka meets James Joyce, and the first few dozen pages are slavishly devoted to an intricate description of the Central Registry, archive of the living and the dead, a gray bureaucracy worked by grayer clerks. It takes real tenacity and fortitude to get through All the Names, but just the accomplishment of that is enough to sustain a reader. That and the fact that Saramago, in his page-long streaming sentences, has a way of making you think. (As in: Whoa, what just happened?)

I was the only person in the club who made it even close to all the way through, and had to give the Cliff notes version to fellow club members. I’m not sure that I inspired them to finish, but it is worth it. However, the book is circular, at best, and you don’t necessarily end up in a better place, i.e. climaxed and resolved in the usual novel style, for having read it. Saramago fans are a passionate bunch, and chances are that if you evolve through one of his long-winded tomes (it’s not long in pages, but, trust me, you’ll feel like it’s a tome), you’ll read them all. His prose is closer to poetry than narrative, and he changes point of view mid-sentence without so much as a how do you do. Just in case you don’t know anyone else who has finished All the Names, and you want to hear what the pros think, here’s a great discussion.

P.S. We need another book, and we spent our three hours together combing bestseller fiction, nonfiction and reader lists without finding one that a) all had not read and b) all wanted to read. If you have an idea, let us know. This next one should be a little more fast-paced …

Advertisements
 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s