The Implacable Order of Things
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Winner of the José Saramago Literary Award
In an unnamed Portuguese village, against a backdrop of severe rural poverty, two generations of men and women struggle with love, violence, death, and—perhaps worst of all—the inescapability of fate.
A pair of twins conjoined at the pinky, a 120-year-old wise man, a shepherd turned cuckold by a giant, and even the Devil himself make up the unforgettably oddball cast of The Implacable Order of Things. As these lost souls come together and drift apart, José Luís Peixoto masterfully reveals the absurd, heartbreaking, and ultimately bewitching aspects of human nature in a literary performance that heralds the arrival of an astoundingly gifted and poetic writer.
makes me go back into town, that makes me go back to Judas’s general store in search of the devil’s false smile. This night that walks with my legs and that makes me, forces me, to go back to the giant. And you know very well that I don’t want to; you know, even as you know your own name and other obvious things, you know I don’t want and didn’t choose this. It’s true that I’m going. I walk and whoever sees me imagines it’s my will. The way I’m walking is precisely my way of walking. I didn’t
forever farther from the light. He proceeded toward the town. Not because he wanted to reach it. Not because he wanted, but because of the afternoon, because of the sun and light, because of an overwhelming solitude. The sheepdog followed him, with a gaze that looked up from her bowed head. A vast gaze, like a soft, brown sky. A child’s or a mother’s gaze that was nevertheless a dog’s gaze. They reached the town. José thought. My wife. The giant. José thought my wife, the giant, and the people
I’ll remember the stars vaguely shining overhead. And all of this which I didn’t notice but which reached me like a forgotten remembrance, told by someone who assures me it was so, happened before the only thing that truly happened on that night, or in my life. And all that time from before seems to have lost its meaning. I lived inside a cloud during that time. Inside a cloud I learned the faded colors of the fog, and I believed that the earth was dull brown, that the grass was dull green, that
weren’t even moving, so soft and tenuous and fragile was his voice. BEFORE HER FATHER WENT TO THE GRAVE, we went to see him at home, coughing coal and ashes onto the bed, onto the sheets. I remember that it was on a Sunday and in September. He was in an iron bed that screeched with a jolt every time he coughed. José’s future wife was a skinny girl, of some sixteen years marked by hunger and want. She ran this way and that, slithering between us, as if something she did could save her father from
I watched the sun’s rays passing through the leaves of the trees and piercing the shade all the way to the ground. Delineated, well-defined sun rays, like those that penetrate the quiet water behind dams and also become water, perfect rays of luminous water. And amid the peacefulness I heard the song of the sparrows, the scattered and harmonious noise of the sparrows, like a distant silence, still tolerated, still allowed by the morning’s mild heat, and the uninterrupted whispering, the infinite