After Us

“Being Dead” by Jim Crace is a weird book, “easier to respect than to love”, wrote Gary Krist in the original Salon review. Well, I can imagine that it plays havoc with some sensitivities. The very premise of the book – telling the story of a couple against the background of their bodies’ minutely described decomposition, after their brutal murder on a beach – adds considerable power to Crace’s beautiful writing. Lesser writers might have failed with the scheme, but Crace fulfills it seemingly without effort. This is metaphysical prose, dense and sometimes lyrical. Weird but great.

The scene at the beach reminded me faintly of the natural history of decay given in Peter Greenaway’s movie “A Zed and Two Noughts”, where you can see a sequence of rotting fruits and decomposing animals in stop motion, starting, if I recall correctly with an apple, then going up the evolutionary ladder with a shrimp, an alligator, a zebra, and, finally, the Crown of Creation. And if you widen your scope a little, you might like to read this 2006 article from New Scientist: “Imagine Earth Without People”