Jim Crace Being Dead

ISBN 13: 9781447250326

Being Dead

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9781447250326: Being Dead

Lying in the sand dunes of Baritone Bay are the bodies of a middle-aged couple. Celice and Joseph, in their mid-50s and married for more than 30 years, are returning to the seacoast where they met as students. Instead, they are battered to death by a thief with a chunk of granite. Their corpses lie undiscovered and rotting for a week, prey to sand crabs, flies, and gulls. Yet there remains something touching about the scene, with Joseph's hand curving lightly around his wife's leg, "quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet."

"Their bodies had expired, but anyone could tell—just look at them—that Joseph and Celice were still devoted. For while his hand was touching her, curved round her shin, the couple seemed to have achieved that peace the world denies, a period of grace, defying even murder. Anyone who found them there, so wickedly disfigured, would nevertheless be bound to see that something of their love had survived the death of cells. The corpses were surrendered to the weather and the earth, but they were still a man and wife, quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet."

From that moment forward, Being Dead becomes less about murder and more about death. Alternating chapters move back in time from the murder in hourly and two-hourly increments. As the narrative moves backward, we see Celice and Joseph make the small decisions about their day that will lead them inexorably towards their own deaths. In other chapters the narrative moves forward. Celice and Joseph are on vacation and nobody misses them until they do not return. Thus, it is six days before their bodies are found. Crace describes in minute detail their gradual return to the land with the help of crabs, birds, and the numerous insects that attack the body and gently and not so gently prepare it for the dust-to-dust phase of death.

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Review:

Penzler Pick, June 2000: It begins with a murder. Celice and Joseph, in their mid-50s and married for more than 30 years, are returning to the seacoast where they met as students. They are reliving their first amorous encounter in the sand dunes when they are set upon by the murderer who beats them to death with a rock and steals their watches, their jewelry, and even their meager lunch. From that moment forward, this remarkably written book by Jim Crace becomes less about murder and more about death. Alternating chapters move back in time from the murder in hourly and two-hourly increments. As the narrative moves backward, we see Celice and Joseph make the small decisions about their day that will lead them inexorably towards their own deaths. Eventually we learn about their first meeting, and that this is not the first time tragedy has struck them in this idyllic setting.

In other chapters the narrative moves forward. Celice and Joseph are on vacation and nobody misses them until they do not return. Thus, it is six days before their bodies are found. Crace describes in minute detail their gradual return to the land with the help of crabs, birds, and the numerous insects that attack the body and gently and not so gently prepare it for the dust-to-dust phase of death. Celice and Joseph would have been delighted with the description: she was a zoologist and he was an oceanographer, and they spent their lives with their eyes to the microscope, observing the phenomena of life and death. Some readers might find this gruesome, but the facts of death are told in such glorious prose that these descriptions in no way detract from the enjoyment of the book.

After her parents do not return home, their daughter, Syl, must search the morgues and follow up John and Jane Doe reports until she is finally asked to make an identification of the remains in the dunes. We then discover that the reader has had a more intimate relationship with them in death than Syl ever had with them in life. This small gem of a book, not really a mystery in the usual sense, will stay with you long after you finish. --Otto Penzler

About the Author:

Jim Crace is the author of seven novels, including Quarantine, which won the 1997 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction. His novels have been translated into eighteen languages. He lives with his wife and children in Birmingham, England.

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Book Description Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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.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. Bookseller Inventory # AWC9781447250326

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Book Description Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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.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. Bookseller Inventory # AWC9781447250326

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Book Description Picador. Book Condition: New. 2013. Paperback. An unflinching meditation on love and death in Jim Crace's best-loved, groundbreaking novel Num Pages: 224 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 196 x 143 x 14. Weight in Grams: 168. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9781447250326

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