Sometimes when I read a book, particularly a short one, I come to the rapid realisation that what the author is trying to achieve is not something I am interested in reading about. Small books have a certain responsibility to make their intentions known early, or at the very least, they possess a measure of focus which ensures that their critical aspect (be it plot, style, theme, metaphor, philosophy, etc) comes to the fore and burns away other, less necessary fripperies that might exist in a 300+ page novel.
For me, Jorge Amado’s The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray is the kind of novel where, by twenty pages in (of 70) it became abundantly clear to me that I was not the intended audience, or more accurately, that there was nothing here for me. The first death is a real, physical, actual death, the second death is the death of the created man, that is, different facets of Quincas’ life converge and reflect and realise that they know not the whole but the part of a man. And that’s fine. It’s a reasonable idea. It’s played out in a jungly, poor area, which isn’t aesthetically to my taste, but it’s also an idea which, in truth, has probably been well described in the sentences above. For me, I don’t then need the book that examines the idea – the summary is enough.
But I am not everyone, and books are for more people than solely me. And that’s more than fine. I considered abandoning this book, but really, at 70 pages that seemed churlish. Instead I finished it on a bus ride home, put it away, and admitted to myself that the two other novels of Amado that I own would like shift lower down my to-read pile.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read over the years.