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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for those having a tough time. Probably not for the religious
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...
Published 7 months ago by BrynG

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dead Serious
I really rated 'Harvest', my first Jim Crace novel - loved its graceful, measured prose, it's strangely alien voice. It worked well in 'Harvest', this remote, grave, poetic sensibility - with its almost biblical aura. But that was set in medieval times, in feudal England, the prose suited it. Coming right up to date with 'Being Dead' I immediately felt the rhythmic,...
Published 1 month ago by Woolco


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for those having a tough time. Probably not for the religious, 26 Nov 2013
This review is from: Being Dead (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Dunes shift', 31 Dec 2013
By 
Simon Barrett "Il penseroso" (london, england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Being Dead (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. I particularly liked Dolbear's formula for estimating air temperature by the frequency of insect stridulations and of course the enigmatic sage Mondazy and his fatal yet elusive Fish, in pursuit of which teasing phantom frantic pleas for help have been posted, but I also noted with pleasure the plant genus vomitoria and the patience-trying jangle of Osvaldo Bosse. Do I detect an echo of Edmundo Ross and, for the stridulations, of Dolby speakers? Cornelius (p45) echoes Michael Moorcock but I suspect not Henricus Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (De occulta philosophia, 1533), though in 2012 one MR Cornelius published a book called - wait for it - The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. Now *that's* spooky

So, an odd mixture of the deadly serious and the inconsequentially playful (Calvino features, but there is no such work as Antonyms, though no doubt there should have been), a cross between Urne Buriall (now in competing brand-new editions from New Directions and NYRB, folks) and Christopher Priest's The Islanders - though what, pray, is a 'wine-deep sea' except, conceivably, a misprint? And I wish Crace or his editor had picked up on that 'I' (p41); it really jars with people like we. Could that have been what swung the judging panel against him this time? Or maybe they wuz jest plain a-skeered of dying. Happy New Year - one step nearer our long home for each of us
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 July 2014
By 
Kate Annett (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Being Dead (Paperback)
Couldn't put it down!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dead Serious, 20 May 2014
This review is from: Being Dead (Paperback)
I really rated 'Harvest', my first Jim Crace novel - loved its graceful, measured prose, it's strangely alien voice. It worked well in 'Harvest', this remote, grave, poetic sensibility - with its almost biblical aura. But that was set in medieval times, in feudal England, the prose suited it. Coming right up to date with 'Being Dead' I immediately felt the rhythmic, distant, authorial voice somehow anachronistic.

Yet, having said that, the solemn, stilted prose does befit the subject matter of death and decay, to an extent. Crace observes the bludgeoned bodies lying dead in the dunes unflinchingly, day after day recording the decomposition, little escaping his majestic scrutiny. These descriptive passages are excellent - though scattered with rather grand pronouncements about nature and death, with a gravity bordering on pomposity:

"This was not death as it was advertised:a fine translation to a better place; a journey through the calm of afterlife into the realms of instinct and desire. The persons had not gone elsewhere, to blink and wake, to sleep and salivate in some place distinctly other than this world, in No-reality. They were, instead, insensible as stones, imprisoned by the viewless wind."

The novel is, as with the above passage, delicately composed and easy on the ear, but a little too cold and detached, in my opinion - too solemn. It lacks a human warmth, humour, and spirit - the life feels rather drained out of it.
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Being Dead
Being Dead by Jim Crace (Paperback - 12 Sep 2013)
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