Author : Jose Saramago
Jose Saramago has been really a find for me. Be it ‘Blindness’ from where I recall ‘Blind people don’t visit an Ophthalmologist’, ‘The year of the death of Ricardo Reis’, ‘Death at intervals, ‘The Cave’ (yet to finish reading), ‘The gospel according to Christ’ (reading) and the brilliant ‘The Double’. Also read Alberto Moravia’s brilliant ‘Time of desecration’ and short stories ‘More Roman Tales’. Alberto Moravia, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Italo Calvino for another day.
‘All the names’ is the story as told through Senhor Hose who works at the central registry where they maintain records of all people dead. Senhor Hose creates his very own archive of births, deaths etc and one woman’s card gets him fascinated enough to go to any lengths to find the details. Humorous in parts Senhor Hose and his conversations with his ceiling are real interesting.
I don’t know everything, but I must have learned a thing or two after all these years of living together, I bet you have never considered that you and I live together, the great difference between us is that you only notice me when you need advice and cast your eyes upwards, whilst I spend all my time looking at you…
Quoting from the book :
/ You can understand why, no one takes an umbrella along when they go burgling, no more than you would when going to war, he could have taken shelter in a doorway and waited for a break in the clouds, but it wasn’t worth it, he couldn’t get any wetter than he was.
/ No, that’s true you didn’t, but if tomorrow you come down with a serious infection because of the wounds, then who’s going to get blamed for neglect and lack of professionalism, me, besides, the boss likes to know everything, that’s his way of pretending he doesn’t care about anything.
/ As for the mice, one need hardly mention how destructive they are. Nevertheless, despite the extensive damage they cause, these rodents also have their positive side, if they didn’t exist the central registry would have burst at the seams, or would be twice the length it is.
/ In civilized countries, they do not have this absurdity of plots in perpetuity, this idea of considering any grave for ever untouchable, as if, since life could not be definitive, death can be.
/ … and it was a not uncommon sight to see a critic suddenly change his opinion simply because the changed opinion of another critic meant that they both now agreed. (I know lot of people who are that way).
/ He had had a strange dream in which he saw himself in the middle of the cemetery, amongst a multitude of sheep so numerous that he could barely see the mounds of the graves, and each sheep had a number on its head that kept changing continually, but, because the sheep were all the same, you couldn’t tell if it was the sheep that were changing numbers or numbers changing sheep. He heard a voice shouting, I’m here, I’m here, it couldn’t come from the sheep because they stopped talking a long time ago, nor could it be the graves because there is no record of a grave ever having spoken…
/ It was Monday, the very worst day to miss work, especially if you were a clerk. Whatever the alleged reason, and however convincing it might have been on any other occasion, it was always suspected of being merely an excuse, a way of justifying prolonging the indolence of Sunday into a day that was legally and customarily devoted to work.
/ As he left the garden, he was doubtful which direction to take, if he had bought a map of the city, as he had intended, he would not now have to be asking a policeman the way, but the fact is that the situation, the law giving advice to the criminal, gave him a certain subversive pleasure.