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Blindness, by Jose Saramago

Well, that was an incredibly strange book.

I first saw it a few months ago and thought it sounded interesting, but didn't get around to reading it right away. A few weeks ago I started seeing trailers for the movie adaptation and figured I should get around to reading the book. And assuming the movie is anything past mediocre it's going to be one of the very few exceptions to my normal "the book is always better" rule.

The author, Jose Saramago, is apparently a Nobel laureate, and he and his books are popular and critically acclaimed and all that. Which seems odd to me, I think it desperately needs a ruthless copy-editor.

One of the Amazon reviews said that they thought the lack of punctuation and run-on sentences and complete confusion of the writing was to keep the reader as confused as the characters. Which would be a good point, except that that seems to be the way the guy writes everything. So it wasn't a choice for effect.

Beyond the writing style (which can be dealt with even if it's incredibly annoying) the characters were weird and their actions just didn't make sense. Why would everyone stop using names? If you can't see to describe someone the most logical way to identify them is by their name. But instead everyone just wanders around and thinks names are useless for some reason.

They all seem to slide entirely too easily into behaving like animals. I realize that newly blinded people wouldn't be able to take care of themselves as easily as someone who has been blind for a longer amount of time, but none of them even try! They all just give up. And wouldn't it make sense to recruit actual blind people to help out? They can't "catch" whatever is blinding people so when it seems like it'll be a containable event, why not have blind people there to explain how to do things? To share their experiences?

I lost patience with "the doctor's wife" pretty early on. She gets more and more upset by the way everyone is living, and yet does nothing to help the situation. She's in the perfect position to help a ton of people and she does nothing. Because she's afraid she'll have to lead everyone around all the time? That's just silly! Blind people don't need to be led everywhere. Help them figure out how to take care of themselves, how to help themselves.

The whole thing just came off as very condescending and pretentious.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 26, 2008 7:40 PM.

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