Blog post

"A cautious memoirist who ends with a laugh"—José Saramago reviewed in The New York Times

Morgan Buck23 May 2011

Writing on May 10, Dwight Garner of The New York Times reviewed Small Memories, the latest book to be released by the acclaimed novelist José Saramago

The slim memoir joins The Notebook (now available in paperback from Verso) as one of Saramago's last, "a distillation of some of the central recollections of Saramago's youth." Garner reports that while "it's mostly a vague and distracted book," the memories that it presents are "echoing ones." 

His best writing has always had an aphoristic quality, and that's true here. "There are plenty of people out there," he writes, "who steal much more than copper wire and rabbits and still manage to pass themselves off as honest folk in the eyes of the world."

He notes: "The truth is that children's cruelty knows no limits (which is the real reason why adult cruelty knows no bounds either)." And surely he is attending to literary reality when he writes, in what is probably the sentence in this book I hold most dear: "However hard you may try, there is never much to say about a henhouse."

"Small Memories" has an elegiac tone, one that is suggested by something the writer's elderly grandmother said to him: "The world is so beautiful, it makes me sad to think I have to die."

Visit The New York Times to read the review in full.