Blank Gaze Book Review
Kidzworld reviews Jose Luis Piexotos prize-winning novel, Blank Gaze.
Author: Jose Luis Peixoto
In a small village, love, jealousy, violence, the Devil, and Siamese twins joined at the fingertip each play a role in Jose Luis Peixoto's prize-winning novel, Blank Gaze.
Crazy CharactersIn a poor village in southern Portugal, we find a bizarre cast of characters. Two Siamese twins are joined at the pinky fingers. They are identical and even have the same number of white hairs on their heads. A man is 120 years old as the story begins, and lives even longer than that. A cook falls in love and gets creative while playing with her food, but in a good way. The local priest is known as the Devil, and torments two feuding cousins. Also, a man sits in a windowless room writing, while a master carpenter marries a blind woman. The question is, how do they interact, and what does it all mean?
Love, Jealousy, and Violence
This is the raw world we are thrown into when reading Peixoto’s Blank Gaze. Each story slowly develops, and even though some characters don't even have names, you’ll end up caring about them. There are moments of suffering, there are moments of beauty. Through weddings, births, and deaths, as each character slowly moves towards their own inevitable ending, as a reader you can't help but to feel drawn in to this shocking world. Ultimately, you can't stop reading because you have to know how each heavily emotional story turns out.
The Bottom Line
This is not your everyday novel. Winner of the Jose Saramago prize in 2001, Blank Gaze has been translated into English and released in North America this year. The story is made up of many sub-plots which all take place in a seemingly ill-fated community, and each is more gripping than the next. The writing is beautifully poetic and ultra-descriptive, even in the brutal moments, although sometimes the pretty words can slow the pace a little. Also, some of the subject matter in this book is so true to life, it may be a little too scary for younger readers. Basically, it's really serious, but it's also seriously good.