If someone were to ask me which author is most worthy to be read in his entirety, I would not hesitate to answer, "Jose Saramago".
My only reservation would be caused by the swish of Tolstoy's beard as he swept by swinging his sickle and shouting "What?" [in Russian].
Admittedly, Tolstoy is up there, too.
But why would I stick with Saramago?
Because. [And by the way, you will never see a sentence that brief in his unpunctuated stuff!]
If Saramago lived in Tolstoy's time, he would have been Tolstoy.
But he lived in ours. In our time. And this is why I would choose him as more relevant.
I've read pretty much everything that Jose Saramago has ever had published, excluding his travelogue about Portugal. A few of my Saramago books are not even included in the hastily assembled coffee-table collage, above. And one day I will probably get to the travelogue.
First of all, his style is entirely arresting. It is like nothing you have seen before. He eschews proper punctuation, and his sentences travel on, un-comma-ed, for nearly a century. Once you clue in to his style, you are hooked, and begin to wonder why apostrophes exist.
But he speaks to the human situation like no one else can do it.
Saramago is Portuguese, and we English folk enter his mind via translation, [as we do with his only rival, Leo] -- and it is a journey well-taken.
I am using the present tense, but my favourite author is gone, and I am now left to the bittersweet pleasure of re-reading him. He began his literary career at the age of 55, which gives me hope, as I shall turn 50 this year -- and have yet, written nothing.
I remember the very day that I sat at a Second Cup coffee shop [June, of 2010] and tuned in to the internet and heard that Jose Saramago had passed away. I sat there in stunned silence.
If you have not yet ever discovered the work of Nobel-Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, I encourage you to get your ass-caboose to the nearest bookstore and buy up this man's words. I suggest that you start with either Blindness or The Cave, the latter of which I have even taken my blog-alias from, his protagonist, Cipriano.
It was such an honour to be in his presence back in 2005 -- to have my copy of Bllndness signed by him.
I miss him.
A recent documentary I discovered has made me fall for him all over again:
Part 2 -- HERE.
Part 3 -- HERE.