Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing
by Charles Bowden (2009)
My thoughts while reading:
Chapter 1: Oh no, did I pick up one of those really pretentious books that’s going to be all stream-of-consciousness and virtually incomprehensible? This is what they mean by “writer’s writer,” isn’t it? I shoulda known since it was my literary-mag friend who recommended it! Aww, I don’t think I’m going to be able to keep reading if it’s like this. . . Oh well, this chapter is short — I’ll just check out the next one to see if it’s more of the same.
Chapter 2: Phew, much better. Sentences shorter than half-pages. Still a little vague and opaque, but at least I can follow it. Ooh, what’s this? Page 41:
The numbers of people will rise, the pain of migration will grow, the seas will bark forth storms, the bombs will explode in the markets, and mouths fighting for a place at the table will grow, as will the shouting and shoving. That is a given.
Once the given is accepted, fear is pointless. The fear comes from not accepting it, from turning aside one’s head, from dreaming in the fort of one’s home that such things cannot be. The fear comes from turning inward and seeking personal salvation. . .
There is an industry peddling solutions, and these solutions insist no one must really change, except perhaps a little, and without pain. This is the source of the fear, this refusal to accept the future that is already here.
In the Old Testament, the laws insist we must not drink blood, that the flesh must be properly drained or we will be outcasts from the Lord. They say these rules were necessary for clean living in some earlier time.
I swallow the blood, all the bloods.
I am that outlaw, the one crossing borders.
The earlier time is over.
Niiiice. . .
Chapter 3: Ok, snakes huh? I can dig. . . Oh wow, this is even better than last chapter. . . This is actually good. . . Really good!. . . How have I not heard of this guy before now?. . . Kind of like Edward Abbey but more poetic, or maybe Derrick Jensen but more grounded . . . I’m gonna have to check out more of his stuff!
Chapters 4-6: Ok, so maybe “Serpent” was the book peaking early, but this is still readable. Some important points about the flawed ethos of our time, and a poignant delivery as well (if vague). But man, is all that graphic, depressing sex necessary?
Chapter 7: Skim!