The Brief History of the Dead.
Sometimes judging a book by its cover, or in this case, title, yields wonderful results. I don’t remember where I first heard about The Brief History of the Dead, but I put it on my to-read list based on title alone. So, last weekend, wandering around the library, I picked it up as it fit my criteria of “On my list” and “Not too heavy” (physically).
The premise of the story is that there exists a city of the dead wherein the dead live as long as they are remembered by a person living on Earth. After there is no one left to remember them, it is not entirely clear where they go, but they leave the city just as the dead leave Earth.
A virus called “The Blinks” has hit Earth and has wiped out the entire population… except for one researcher in Antarctica. What will happen to the city of the dead now that there is only one person on Earth? How many people are left in the city – how many people can one person remember? What happens to the researcher when she realizes that there is no one left alive?
In some ways, the story telling reminded me a bit of Blindness by José Saramago, though several orders of magnitude less disturbing. I can’t really put my finger on what exactly is similar about the styles, but something about the changes in the cities feels analogous. The writing is truly breathtaking. I wish I had bought this book rather than borrowing it as when I started writing down passages I wanted to remember, I soon found that I had filled five pages of my journal. Here’s one little gem:
I know what you meant, honey. But I can’t give you an answer. I don’t think anybody could. ‘What are we doing here?’ For that matter, what were we doing there? Why were we ever anywhere at all?