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Author Topic: Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago  (Read 6638 times)
Ed
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« on: September 22, 2009, 04:38:43 PM »

Thought I'd start a thread, ready for some discussion on the book. I think this one's probably going to take a while longer to read than Ghost Pirates, but I'm looking forward to getting stuck in smiley
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2009, 06:09:14 PM »

Same here.  Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2009, 06:13:33 PM »

Mine's arrived and it's more pages than the last one. Will start tonight.
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2009, 06:36:32 PM »

I went forthe free delivery option, so I haven't got mine yet. Hopefully I'll have it by Monday, though.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2009, 01:29:07 PM »

I used the one-click option on Amazon and the book price did go up a couple of quid but I thought - sod it, lets go with that then.
And I need a head start, I'm an extremely slow reader.
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2009, 06:00:51 PM »


And I need a head start, I'm an extremely slow reader.

Yeah, I noticed that on the last one - I thought I was a slow reader, but I'm Speedy Gonzales on meth compared to you afro
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2009, 07:05:27 PM »

I have opted for the free book, pick-it-up yourself option by placing a hold on it at my local library. I'm afraid this isn't one I'll want to add to my permanent collection, but I'm willing to spend a few hours reading it. Well, I say that now. I may get frustrated with the "dense prose" and "creative punctuation" at some point and go the Geoff Nelder route. We'll see.  bleh
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2009, 07:16:58 PM »

Yeah, I noticed that on the last one - I thought I was a slow reader, but I'm Speedy Gonzales on meth compared to you afro

You got it right there, Ed.  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2009, 07:29:41 PM »

Be prepared for long sentences with lots of commas and the power of three abounding. So far I don't mind the prose, the words as they're strung together, the way the sentences are formulated. And fortunately the gaps between, that distance which separates, and the space that renders, the power of three less than a device don't occur too often; so far!  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 11:05:00 AM »

Mine turned up this morning afro
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 07:50:16 PM »

All right. First discussion point for everyone who's read the first chapter (which ends on page 13). Even if you haven't finished the chapter, if you've read to the paragraph break on page 8, you can participate.

Discussion Point:

What does Saramago gain, if anything, by eschewing quotation marks and separating the dialogue of two speakers with only a comma (no line break) and simply starting the new speaker's words with a capital letter? What does he lose?

On pages 6-8 is a conversation between the health minister and a journalist, and on pages 9-13 is a conversation between the prime minister and the cardinal. The latter is much longer, and I found it much harder to keep track of who was speaking.

I've tried to work out what the benefit to this style is, and the only thing that comes to mind is "immediacy."  Although it *does* add a surrealistic tone to the material on top of what the subject matter already provides--makes it less journalistic and more fantastic, perhaps--I find that I have to keep re-reading bits to make sure I understand what's going on, so it destroys the flow.

I keep asking myself, "Would it have *killed* him (no pun intended) to have used traditional dialogue structure?"

Do you think it would have taken anything away from the story?  scratch
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Ed
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2009, 04:11:04 AM »

No, I don't. I'm tempted to call it arrogance on the author's part, but I guess he would say it was done in the pursuit of some higher goal. Art, darling. It's obviously not an oversight, otherwise it would not be how it is - an editor would have caught it, or it would have been lost in translation. Questions would have been asked and answered at some stage.

My guess would be the reason either revolves around wanting to give the reader a feeling of uneasiness - wrong footing them as they read - or it's the more cynical reason of a marketing ploy. To get people talking about it.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2009, 02:24:12 PM »

It is very strange, this way of representing dialogue. But so far it hasn't got my back up.
Two questions did spring to mind 1) was the translator under such a tight deadline that she didn't have the time to go back and structure the dialogue or 2) is this how Portuguese literature is put to paper and the translator has echoed this exactly? I have no idea. And I've not yet seen any comments elsewhere on the Internet that talk about this style.  scratch
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2009, 05:09:11 PM »

I'm on page 40-50, can't remember exactly without checking - god I'm lazy, hold on a minute, I'll go and have a look.

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I'm on page 45 and have to say that I'm surprised that the narrator (both of them it seems, translator and author) have decided to pop in to the story and say sorry for not making something about the characters, in earlier passages, clear! Not an omni-present narrator but a present narrator - very different indeed.
I must say I'm not to keen on this as the explanation that "poor folk" can't really afford a mule and cart and that the "poor folk" aren't in fact that poor - and this is why they have a mule and cart, is not really necessary. I didn't pick up on this and to pop into the story like that (author intrusion) doesn’t add anything for me.

Apart from that, so far so good. But it's a long debate about the pros and cons of death that seems, only now, to be fading away giving space for the rest of the story to continue.
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2009, 08:35:36 PM »

Quote
is this how Portuguese literature is put to paper and the translator has echoed this exactly

I was wondering the same thing.

I expected this one to be a chore, and though I've only read ten pages so far, I'm pleased to see it's flowing along quite smoothly.
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Jerry Enni lives in a small house in the center of the San Joaquin Valley with his beautiful family. By day he makes signs and by night he writes stories. To learn more about him, check out Clear Perspective, Blurry Lens
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