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Being Dead

Jim Crace

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ISBN 10: 0312275420 / ISBN 13: 9780312275426
Published by St. Martins Press-3pl
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Paperback. 208 pages. Dimensions: 8.1in. x 5.4in. x 0.6in.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 Josephs hand curving lightly around his wifes leg, quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet. Their bodies had expired, but anyone could telljust look at themthat 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. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312275426

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Being Dead

Publisher: St. Martins Press-3pl

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

Book Type: Paperback

About this title

Synopsis:

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.

"

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

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