National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2001
Jim Crace has been called "one of the brightest lights in contemporary British fiction" by The New York Times Book Review. His novels have won a Whitbread Prize, an E.M. Forster Award, the Guardian Fiction Award, the GAP International Prize for Literature, and have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Far-ranging in its imagery, Being Dead is a provocative examination of mortality. A middle-aged couple, Joseph and Celice, are murdered on a remote East Coast sand dune. They are not discovered for six days. Both doctors of zoology, Joseph and Celice would recognize what is happening to their decomposing bodies if they could have watched. They are dead, but they remain part of the living for a while as they become food, shelter, icons, and sources of emotional catharsis. As Jim Crace examines the various facets of these two people's lives and deaths, he creates an extraordinary journey through haunting physical, scientific, and philosophical landscapes. Narrator Virginia Leishman provides the perfect tones for Crace's remarkable, lyrical text.
©1999 Jim Crace; (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
"Crace is a brilliant British writer whose novels are always varied in historical setting, voice, theme and writing style, and are surprising in content....This latest, sixth effort, a stunning look at two people at the moment of their deaths, is the riskiest of his works, the most mesmerizing, and the most deeply felt....His finesse in drawing character is matched by the depth of his knowledge and imagination, and the honesty of his bleak vision." (Publishers Weekly)
"It's not clear to me why Jim Crace isn't world famous. Few novels are as unsparing as this one in presenting the ephemerality of love given the implacability of death, and few are as moving in depicting the undiminished achievement love nevertheless represents." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A brilliant, astonishing novel." (The Times [London])
...it's a bit of a snoozer. The premise is good, but by the end I just wanted it to be over. I was a bit tired of hearing about the ordinary characters and the scientific details of their deaths.
I got the impression this would be more about the couples' lives post mortem, but actually most of the book is flashbacks to the couple's "origin story." A fine read, but actually less macabre than I'd hoped, and less thought-provoking than I'd expected from other reviews here. It's fine.
I would have liked this better if I had not been so busy. It's kind of wonderful, but you have to be in a somewhat meditative state to appreciate it, and my state has been generally frantic. I think I will listen to it again though.
I too, was attracted to the prose. I liked the voice of the reader, but I'm a sucker for an english accent. The first reviewer states that this book "defies genre" and I agree. I like odd things and I liked this book.
Sorry I hated this book. The technical imagery of the rotting corpses was good, but not enough to save the fact that there is really no story here and the people are one dimensional and boring. I had trouble not dieing myself while trying to complete this book.
Got about one hour into this one and then just couldn't take it anymore. Graphic descriptions of decomposing bodies are not my bag. Would probably make better reading for a forensic or autopsy class.
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