(Some small spoiler effects...)
I thought it was a great book. I read it in two sittings.
Sometimes authors can be too clever. Their books are too long, their language too complex, their references arcane. Not here. This is in many ways a simple book, but deeply rich for that. It engages the reader, makes them think, forces the reader to fill in the gaps between the narrator's account and the likely reality. Sometimes in my head I was screaming at the characters - why don't you do this, or that...and then realising that I could do nothing about it. And not because I was a reader, and they were characters; but because that's how all of us are, sometimes trapped like rats in a maze, knowing no other way to live. Like small town people who stay in their small towns, we don't need to know more because we're strangely contented, despite relative privation.
While these characters have limited lives, perhaps they are more like the rest of us than we'd care to admit. We limit ourselves in so many ways, by default, design, or simple ignorance. Much of the harshness of life we choose to hide, to ignore. No one visits the sausage factory on a school tour. Few aspire to be undertakers. There is little glamour in pathology, and so we block it out, we pretend it's not there. As we age, we become more aware of death and decay, but still we push it to one side. There's nothing wrong with death in itself, it's just a natural thing. Yet we prefer to not think about it.
Lovely book, deeply moving - the best I've read in some time.