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Being Dead: A Novel Paperback – March 21, 2001
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In other chapters the narrative moves forward. Celice and Joseph are on vacation and nobody misses them until they do not return. Thus, it is six days before their bodies are found. Crace describes in minute detail their gradual return to the land with the help of crabs, birds, and the numerous insects that attack the body and gently and not so gently prepare it for the dust-to-dust phase of death. Celice and Joseph would have been delighted with the description: she was a zoologist and he was an oceanographer, and they spent their lives with their eyes to the microscope, observing the phenomena of life and death. Some readers might find this gruesome, but the facts of death are told in such glorious prose that these descriptions in no way detract from the enjoyment of the book.
After her parents do not return home, their daughter, Syl, must search the morgues and follow up John and Jane Doe reports until she is finally asked to make an identification of the remains in the dunes. We then discover that the reader has had a more intimate relationship with them in death than Syl ever had with them in life. This small gem of a book, not really a mystery in the usual sense, will stay with you long after you finish. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As the novel opens, two middle-aged zoologists, Jospeh and Celice, in a nostalgic mood, return to the very strip of beach where they first made love more than thirty years before. Nostalgia, though, at least in Being Dead, comes with a very high price. It gives nothing of the plot away to say that this couple are brutally and senselessly murdered on this strip of beach by a psychopathic thief. Their deaths come at the beginning of the book and are the very incident upon which all others turn.
As Jospeh's and Celice's half-naked bodies lie undiscovered in the dunes for days, Crace describes the process of their corruption and dissolution and, in alternating chapters, the story of how they met, fell in love and first made love on that morning now so long ago. Later chapters introduce one further character: the couple's daughter, Syl, a lost child in more ways than one. The death of Joseph and Celice, in some ways, marks the beginning of Syl's life.
The book seems to be reviving the age-old practice of "quivering" the dead in which guests stand around the dead one's home and bed, making strange noises and shaking "quiver sticks" until the entire house rattles "as if a thousand crows were pecking at the roof." As they "quivered," the guests would reminisce about the dead until, "Their memories, exposed to the backward-running time of quiverings in which regrets became prospects, resentments became love, experience became hope, would up-end the hour-glass of Celice and Jospeh's life together and let the sands reverse.Read more ›
Through the use of three carefully constructed and effective narratives, Mr. Crace deals with the physical reality of death, the way that death exists in a continuum with life lived, and the impact on those left behind. In the end, the reader has a stunningly complete and rich picture of the main characters and how their doubts, loves, griefs, successes, losses, and uncertainties have shaped their lives and, in combination with something as simple as a beautiful day, led them to be where they are at the novel's beginning.
Overall, a stunning piece of work, one of the most moving and thought provoking that I have read in quite some time. It offers proof of Kierkegaard's notion that life, while it must be lived forward, can only be understood in reverse.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful descriptions. Jim Crace deal with the topic really. Unsentimental and beautiful. The progression toward death is just the natural activity of life. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Barbara E. Chapman
I hate, hate, hate this book. I was required to buy it for a class. Hate it, hate it hate it. Must I say more. Just loathe it.Published 5 months ago by Fly By Night
Being Dead is one of my favorite books and it actually a story of great love. I read it every summer, and had lost my copy in a move, so reordered. Glad I could replace.Published 6 months ago by Susanna Sisson
If you like gruesome, detailed grisly descriptions, then you will love this book. The author, perhaps because of his own father's death, seems to be using his writing (while... Read morePublished 8 months ago by mbl
This is not something I would have picked up had it not been for my English class, but I'm glad I was required to read it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Buy all the things!
Being Dead is one of the most extraordinary, poetic, unsentimental books I have ever read about death. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Erica Miles, author of Dazzled by Darkness
This book is incredibly strange both due to the bizarre unusual perspectives introduced and the way the book unfolds. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Sophie Priddy