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Being Dead Unbound – Aug 2001

33 customer reviews

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Unbound, Aug 2001
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Product details

  • Unbound
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (Aug. 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0374701822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374701826
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Lying in the sand dunes of Baritone Bay are the bodies of a middle-aged couple. Zoologists Joseph and Celice returned to the site of their first lovemaking to rekindle the flame thirty years into their marriage, only to be battered to death by a thief with a chunk of granite. Their bodies lie undiscovered and rotting for a week, prey to sand-crabs, flies and gulls, and yet there is something touching about this scene--it's in the way that Joseph's hand curves lightly around Celice's leg, "quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead but not departed yet."

Being Dead is more about the leavings of death than it is about the state of death itself. Running crazy fate lines between the past and present of Joseph and Celice, Crace returns again and again to those mutilated bodies in the dunes with updates on the colour of their decaying skin, the seeping fluids and the creatures feeding off them. This is not a murder book-- the killer is perhaps the least important character. But Crace gives some wonderful glances at death- professionals, in particular a drugged-up lascivious mortuary clerk; "He'd find his own name on the list one day...Enfin, a name to make his heart stand still. Sincere at last."

Jim Crace is the author of Continent, The Gift of Stones, Arcadia, Signals of Distress and Quarantine, which won the 1997 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize and IMPAC Literary Prize. Crace has won numerous other awards, including the EM Forster Award and the Guardian Fiction Award. -- Anna Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘An extraordinarily moving love story’ Observer

‘A work of near-genius’ Literary Review

‘A swirling symphonic celebration of the glory of the natural world’ The Times

‘Intensely imagined and deeply felt’ Hilary Mantel, Sunday Times

‘One of the most haunting books I read this year’ Carol Shields, Guardian

‘Magnificent’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Astonishing’ Daily Telegraph

‘One of the most haunting books I read this year’ Carol Shields, Guardian

‘A classic’ Independent on Sunday

‘A work of near-genius’ Literary Review

‘Magnificent’ Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jim Crace is a master storyteller. I enjoyed Quarantine and was intrigued to see what he would do with his next book. I have to say I think it is even better. His writing style is sheer poetry - which sounds incredible when you think of the subject matter here, the bodies of two murder victims, but it is the touching way that he slowly reveals to us all about his very human characters. The structure of the book is fascinating, one half of it goes backwards from the point of the murder to tell the story of how Joseph and Celice first met. The other half of the book goes forwards in traditional linear fashion to tell you what happens to their bodies as they lie undiscovered on the seashore and how nature takes over. I think Jim Crace is one of the most inventive novel writers around at the moment and I was hooked from the first sentence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on 31 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback
I must admit I was speed-reading (skipping) increasingly during the later parts - reverse chronology, post mortem precedural or just plain carnal - of this slender book, but on form Crace is unbeatable - the best writer never to have won a Booker? A hundred years ago ('optimistic times') 'death was an ill-lit corridor with all its greater rooms beyond'. 'Dissident hair' which, 'within an hour of her death, began to seem more lively than it ever had in life'. On old age, 'her tent repitched every day, a step nearer home'. Fundamentally this is a secular sermon borne by a minimalist plot. Nothing wrong with that, and Crace is good on the banal awkwardness of youth, but to cannibalise Shakespeare, once dead there's no more dying; Crace has boxed himself into a, well, box

Some of the other reviews are puzzling. This slight novel has many loose strands, is not 'poetic' in the least (unless by that one means simply well-written) but decidedly realist in tenor, and the binding theme of human decomposition, which quickly runs out of steam as one might have expected (a bit like watching paint dry, say) is of course not fiction at all; it is immortal souls that are that. As for Crace's (equally realist) view of love, this is if anything even more depressing than the bodies lying in their lissom bed - though has anyone picked up on Crace's astonishing way with the female psyche? The first half is enlivened considerably by hints of a parallel world with recognisable geopolitical divisions, CDs and even, improbably, Fifties starlets, yet where much else is subtly changed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BrynG on 26 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful and perceptive book about a difficult subject (or subjects). In part it's a love story, but there are also threads concerned with the finality of death (if you are religious you probably don't accept this), and that a life lived in guilt is itself a form of being dead. Despite the subject matter, Crace manages to make the book conclude on an uplifting note. I was tempted to give this book 5 stars because it is difficult to see how it could have been done better (there are a number of interwoven stories, all of which are really well done), but in the end it drops a star for me because I actually didn't like any of the characters enough to feel deeply enough about their troubles.
I've never read any Jim Crace before, but will happily read him again.
P.S. This was actually read within our book group and discussed just before Xmas. Bad timing!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Cathy ni on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a stunning piece of work. Crace never ceases to surprise and delight the reader. The story is simple enough and the prose has a quiet simplicity and beauty compared to some of his previous novels. What makes Being Dead so original and moving is the complex way he explores the subject of death. There is nothing macabre or sensationalized about it. Instead he explores the frank intimacies of human decomposition and the subtle emotional effects on the character's daughter. The clarity and unflinching honesty of the writing makes this a piece of fiction that is unique and uplifting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on 1 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I must admit I was speed-reading (skipping) increasingly during the later parts - reverse chronology, post mortem precedural or just plain carnal - of this slender book, but on form Crace is unbeatable - the best writer never to have won a Booker? A hundred years ago ('optimistic times') 'death was an ill-lit corridor with all its greater rooms beyond'. 'Dissident hair' which, 'within an hour of her death, began to seem more lively than it ever had in life'. On old age, 'her tent repitched every day, a step nearer home'. Fundamentally this is a secular sermon borne by a minimalist plot. Nothing wrong with that, and Crace is good on the banal awkwardness of youth, but to cannibalise Shakespeare, once dead there's no more dying; Crace has boxed himself into a, well, box

Some of the other reviews are puzzling. This slight novel has many loose strands, is not 'poetic' in the least (unless by that one means simply well-written) but decidedly realist in tenor, and the binding theme of human decomposition, which quickly runs out of steam as one might have expected (a bit like watching paint dry, say) is of course not fiction at all; it is immortal souls that are that. As for Crace's (equally realist) view of love, this is if anything even more depressing than the bodies lying in their lissom bed - though has anyone picked up on Crace's astonishing way with the female psyche? The first half is enlivened considerably by hints of a parallel world with recognisable geopolitical divisions, CDs and even, improbably, Fifties starlets, yet where much else is subtly changed.
Read more ›
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