I began this book, Blindness, with great anticipation. Many were extolling its virtues. The premise was fascinating: a man sitting at a traffic light suddenly turns blind. It spreads, seemingly communicable. The first to go blind are taken to a mental hospital, quarantined in terrible conditions, while the population outside rapidly succumbs, blindness spreading like a disease.
I stepped into the novel unaware of just how harsh, how inhumane some of the players would be. Things quickly go from bad to worse, think about the entire population of your city, your country, suddenly going blind. What would be the consequences? It is difficult to imagine. But Jose Saramago can and does imagine it, and seemingly quite well. He understands the depths to which people descend, both morally and emotionally. And he understands that this world, an unseeing world, is full of crap. And I mean that literally. There is a copious amount of feces and a copious amount of describing it. Yet it does not detract from the story too much, but is noticeable.
Saramago also has an interesting way of writing. He shuns the use of quotation marks, all dialogue appears within long paragraphs, seperated only by commas, no periods. Capitals are used to denote change from one persons speech to another. Although very different, it is not too difficult to follow.
I enjoyed the book, found it fascinating at times, it began climbing to that pinnacle, the point where a book becomes great, a part of me. But it seemed to fall just short. It never arrived. I reached the last page, the book ending the only way I could see it ending, and then I put it away. I was mildly disappointed, but only because of my great expectations. It never quite reached the elevation, the heights I had hoped. But let that not dissuade you.
Update: I have changed my rating in an effort to be more honest with myself.