Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Brief History of the Dead

I read The Brief History of the Dead to participate in the first meeting of my sister's book club while I'm visiting her. The book appears to have begun as a short story which was published in the New Yorker in 2003.

The Book Club met last night and largely everyone disliked the book, finding many parts quite tedious and waiting for explanations that never came. The whole thing uses as a jumping off point and a set of rules, an African proverb. It reads that there are three kind of people: living people, living-dead people, who are dead but remembered by the living, and then a third type of person who is dead and not remembered by anyone living.

The book is of the post-apocolyptic variety, and everyone is dying quickly of an air-born virus. It's told from the perspective of the living-dead, as it were, who are in an after-life world. One character survives the virus only because she is living in isolation in Antarctica. Those sections were really weak, as if the author had simply watched March of the Penguins and felt himself expert enough to write about that part of the world. I think he made some disastrous POV choices which caused me to feel completely uninterested in nearly every character. Also his writing style is so uninspired. I'm more interested in great writing than anything else.

But, it was fun having a conversation about a book and I'm going to start my own club when I get home. I never would have chosen this book on my own, and even though I didn't enjoy it, it's good to try something new every once in a while, right? I think these gals are going to have fun with their next book - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which is excellent, and, because I'm really bossy, I talked them into reading The World to Come, by Dara Horn, as their third book.


Kathy said...

A-ha! I have The World to Come sitting on my Kindle waiting for me right now!

and The Curious Incident... great book!

You will probably have the second most rocking book club in the world (first is obviously Carrie's since hers inspired yours)!

webbie said...

I am a member of three book clubs. I read. A lot. I have to say that I enjoyed A Brief History of the Dead...but we did have a lively discussion on it.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Curious Incident, but would recommend another book on Autism I found more interesting...better. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. Ms. Moon is a rather well known SciFi writer with an autistic son. She creates a world inthe future in which Autism has been cured.

Love the blog!