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Being Dead [Unbound]

Jim Crace
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 2001

‘An extraordinarily moving love story’ Observer

A couple lie naked in the dunes at Baritone Bay, at the spot where, almost thirty years before, they had first had sex as students. Nostalgia has sent Celice and Joseph back to their singing stretch of coast, but in the seeming calm of the afternoon they meet a brutal and unexpected fate – one which will still their bodies but not their love, and certainly not their story.

‘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

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

A couple lie naked in the dunes at Baritone Bay, at the spot where, almost thirty years before, they had first had sex as students. Nostalgia has sent Celice and Joseph back to their singing stretch of coast, but in the seeming calm of the afternoon they meet a brutal and unexpected fate – one which will still their bodies but not their love, and certainly not their story.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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 (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

‘Astonishing’ Daily Telegraph

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

‘A work of near-genius’ Literary Review

‘Magnificent’ Sunday Telegraph

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

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

‘A classic’ Independent on Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jim Crace has enjoyed great success in both Britain and United States and his work is widely translated. He is the prize-winning author of nine previous books, including Continent (winner of the 1986 Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize), Quarantine (winner of the 1998 Whitbread Novel of the Year and shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Being Dead (winner of the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award). He lives in Birmingham. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Masterpiece 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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3.0 out of 5 stars Not For Me 28 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I would like to give this 2 and a half stars.

I didn't enjoy this novel very much. I didn't know anything about this writer before reading it and I doubt that I will read any more of his books. I found the endless descriptions of the natural world and what happens to a body after death rather dull, but this is probably because I don't have a keen interest in science. I would have preferred more characterisation and some detail about Joseph's and Celice's lives in-between first getting together on the beach and then being murdered in the exact same spot about 30 years later. I liked the book less as it went on, partly because the couple's daughter, who plays more of a role in the later part, had no credibility as a character whatsoever, she was more of a caricature in fact, and not a pleasant one at that! I found many of the scenes in which she was a key player farcical and lacking depth.

For me, `Being Dead' cannot be described as a thriller, so if it's a thriller you are looking for I suggest you try something else, unless you also really enjoy descriptions of the natural world. If you are squeamish about dead bodies and crabs, insects, etc., feeding on these, I strongly advise you to give this book a wide berth. I found this novel a little bit pointless and not very uplifting, but that's just me; each to their own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beats being dead 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life's a beach and then you die 3 Oct 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Joseph and Celice are academics. They are dead, on a beach.

Being Dead is a heavily stylized, poetic study of the death. There is considerable focus on the natural process of decomposition, narrated in a half detached, half fascinated way. It is certainly not portrayed as anything repulsie - if anything, it is beautiful.

There is also a study of how Joseph and Celice came to be on the beach, dead. Part of this is the immediate, short term. But alongside this, there is the longer story of Joseph and Celice's lives and loves. Plus, there is a bit about the immediate legacy they leave.

It sounds very morbid, but it is a story about love and destiny' about nature and inevitability. Jim Crace writes beautifully and even though very little actually happens in the novel, there is a feeling that each of the issues is dealt with systematically, methodically and with just the right amount of attention. For much of the novel, the reader feels that there must be more to it; that there can't be anything more to say on the subject - but there is. And without ever getting lurid or sensationalist. The balance is perfect.

Being Dead is a masterpiece; it deserves to be famous, it deserves to be studied. But most of all, it deserves to be enjoyed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extra Ordinary 17 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback
A novel on the subject of death, which after all concerns everybody, the book succeeds by its neutral tone, making the lost lives of a very ordinary couple poignant and, in retrospect, extraordinary. A good read and a thoughtful novel, - about life in fact, more than death.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting idea for novel, forensic science and nature mix, the character parts the dead bodies 'play' gives great presence, however idea somewhat too visible/the structure too... Read more
Published 2 months ago by grainne
1.0 out of 5 stars slow download
took ages to download and then it was sbout dead bodies. total waste of money in my view. twilight much better.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars book
a horrible read full, of ghastly details I would rather not have known. Is he just trying to be sensational?
Published 10 months ago by antler
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine read
Jim Crace is an interesting author with a compact style. Fascinating plot. Once started, difficult to put down. His most recent book "harvest" is even better
Published 12 months ago by K. F. M. Fisher
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read the book not the reviews. A must read
There are many reviews of this book, both by the publisher, newspapers and other readers in general. I have not added a review as such and find it difficult to put one here. Read more
Published 12 months ago by realbookreview
4.0 out of 5 stars Violent Death
Jim Crace describes what happens physically to the two bodies killed on the beach over days in the minutest detail and,although gruesome,is also fascinating. Read more
Published 14 months ago by granny
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit morbid!
I suppose it was a bit much to think that it wouldnt be from the title
maybe I just a bit too young for it to resonate! Read more
Published 14 months ago by kindleaddict
1.0 out of 5 stars Like reading an autopsy report
I bought this for my book club and could not bring myself to finish it. Way too graphic and boring minutiae of the decay of the bodies. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Happy Homemaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased
Very pleased with seller and purchase. Recommended, would buy again. Very fast delivery, no complaints. That's all I want to say.
Published 16 months ago by Mr. D. J. Gigg
4.0 out of 5 stars Being Dead
Read this book on my Kindle. Would recommend this book and the author to others who like thrillers. I do think that everyone should make up their own mind as to whether to buy it... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mrs. J. Manley
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