Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jose Saramago, "Seeing"

 - Ensaio sobre a lucidez Translation from Portuguese Margaret Jull Costa – e-book

Read from June 2nd to 15th 2017

My rating:

In the capital of a Portugal-like country, the very city infected, four years ago, with the blindness disease, it is election day. The representatives of the three main parties, p.i.t.m. (the party in the middle), p.o.t.r. (the party on the right) and p.o.t.l. (the party on the left) are waiting impatiently for the citizens to come and vote, for a heavy rain seems to keep everybody inside their homes. However, when all morning and afternoon pass without anybody showing up, the organizers start to worry, until 4 o’clock p.m. when everybody comes at once – a little strange, maybe, but it looks like a return to normality. And another surprise is in waiting when the votes are counted: almost all (more than 70% anyway) are blank, as though the voters couldn’t or wouldn’t be bothered to read what it was written on the ballot paper. The authorities decide to repeat the vote, with worse results: this time more than 80% of the votes are blank.

This is the initiating event of the story told by José Saramago’s in another of his disturbing novels: Seeing. Everybody who had read it, together with Wikipedia 😀, keep informing us that this is a sequel of his famous other novel, Blindness, stressing that they should be read in this order. I happened to do so, but I am not convinced that the order is really important (if you are not obsessed with chronology, that is), not as important as to read them both, anyway, because they seem to me mirror stories, with the same theme developed in their rising action: the eternal divorce between power and reason, between authority and humanity and arriving at the same conclusion in the falling action: blindness is not a medical condition but a social one, and the few who can still see are doomed a priori, since they are unable to escape the fate that had been written for them: 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, "HELTER-SKELTER. The True Story of the Manson Murders"

 – e-book

Read from May 24th to June 14th 2017

My rating:

Monsters among and within us

I feel like I have always known about the tragic fate of Sharon Tate, even though I was too young (only three) at the time of the events to really remember them, and I only learnt about her tragic fate some ten years later when, while browsing a “Cinema” magazine, a saw a photo of her with the legend that it was taken a month or so before her death. There wasn’t other information and when I asked my mother she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me many details, neither, other than she was the famous Roman Polanski’s wife and that she was killed in her house while pregnant. I was too young to know where to look for, and there was no computer then to facilitate such research, so the circumstances of her death remained always somehow blurry in my mind, but her story moved me so much (mainly because of her pregnancy) that I have never forgotten her name.

However, it was only after reading Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter-Skelter, that I realized that, tragic as it was, Sharon Tate’s death was not only a criminal case to be investigated and solved by the police, but also an event with social and historical implications. In an interview  taken by Tom Watson for Newsweek in 2009 (40 years after the event), Vincent Bugliosi shared his conviction that the Manson murders changed the world: