So, Saramago goes trolling through the old testament.
I really liked "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ", and have read some very interesting takes on the Cain and Abel story (like Unamuno's Abel Sanchez), but I didn't much care for this one. After the first quarter, I had trouble staying engaged, and had to power through to finish.
It was choke full of dry or ironic humor, and of particular stylistic prose, and it made some pointed observations. And yet...
The Old T has some hugely objectionable, harsh, or down-right insane acts from god and it's devotees. I remember lifting my eyebrows at several points during my read as a teen. This book tours us through and addresses the problems with most (but not all) of them, in an attempt to... what? Discredit god? Because I can't even call this atheism, it is SO bitterly anti-god.
*shrug* It didn't live up to my expectations for the author.
You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.
And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.
Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.
So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.
So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.
Another great book for early grades like kindergarten, first or second for making inferences! A lesson idea would be to tell the students they will be inference investigators! They will use their knowledge plus what they hear during the book today to make their own ideas, or inferences, about the story. The teacher will start with the front cover, letting children get a good look at all of the pictures on the pages. This lesson could be taught throughout an entire week at centers and small group. Today have the students write three inferences starting with our beginning words or phrases. Let the students interact by having them give a thumbs up or tuning down if they don't agree.
Damned tearjerker. To paraphrase Bobby's mom "life is unfair". And boy, do I have mixed feelings about her character. Most of my screaming-at-the-page moments came thanks to her. Anyway, the first story ripped my heart out, and I loved it.
The second was a mix. Kinda' like the characters, their age and the era. Jumbled and confused, almost angels and petty devils. Liked it. Not as much as the first.
The third was the puzzler. Interesting bridge, but wtf. Also, he has a good life, life isn't fair. Maybe.
The fourth took time to hit it's stride, but really got to me on the last two to five pages. Had my waterworks well primed and going. Ready for the last story.
The fifth was the coda. Full circle. And maybe life is unfair, but sometimes is kinder than we expect.