Men and death – An overview over 5 books you want to read.

A while ago I read five books in a row that all dealt predominantly with death. Those were The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Slaughterhouse five by Kurt Vonnegut, and The book thief by Markus Zusak. All of these books are brilliant in their own right. All the authors have worked in some way to make sense of the finite nature of their and everyone’s existence. All of the authors are engaged in unravelling the mystery of life from the endpoint and are putting there personal spin on it from there. All the authors are men.
I was left wondering why they were all so fascinated with death. Is it because men are so close to death, because historically they had to face death on a larger scale as they were the ones sent to war? Is it because they see it as another challenge to conquer? Or is it because death is more accessible to them, because they have the capability to give death, but not to give life?
Vonnegut looks at death as just one state of being and considers it as something of a temporal timeout. It also happens to everything and everyone. Therefore it is not tragic, but natural. This is exemplified with his refrain “And so it goes.” Green comes to the conclusion that a life well lived, no matter for how long, is the ultimate goal that whatever comes after is complicated. Foer sees a strong connection between the living and the dead by the history and remembrance of those dead. As long as people still know his story or her story the person is not gone. And sometimes that person still has the ability to shape other people’s lives. Zusak makes death the narrator of his story and shows him as a caring, thoughtful and sympathetic guy. A guy with remorse.
I highly recommend all five books. I think that they are masterfully done and that they deserve to be read and thought about. I would wish to see books from those authors that focus more on the beginning of life; on birth and development and the way a new life changes all the existing lives around it. Here’s hoping.

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About scratchingcat

Writer, mother, friend.
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4 Responses to Men and death – An overview over 5 books you want to read.

  1. Dome Woo says:

    I’d just say death in general is a topic that we all are fascinated with (or scared of – we all want to live and stay alive) & some of us refuse to believe that there is an end to things and believe in the great beyond, wizardy worlds, regenerating time travelers, never-ending life/death as vampires and a human-alien hybrid (Jesus obviously). I don’t think only man are able to cause death (women are capable of doing so as well), men are not able to give birth, but they are needed to create life as well – it a bit like the chicken and egg principle, one can’t exist without the other, very much like life can’t exist without death and we all have to come to terms with it at some point in our life.

  2. Dome Woo says:

    I’d just say death in general is a topic that we all are fascinated with (or scared of – we all want to live and stay alive) & some of us refuse to believe that there is an end to things and believe in the great beyond, wizardy worlds, regenerating time travelers, never-ending life/death as vampires and a human-alien hybrid (Jesus obviously). I don’t think only men are able to cause death (women are capable of doing so as well); men are not able to give birth, but they are needed to create life as well – it is like the chicken and egg principle, one can’t exist without the other, very much like life can’t exist without death and we all have to come to terms with it at some point in our lifes.

  3. Last two sentences could be your Nanowrimo project?

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