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.
and said you’re going to be a father. A smile slowly formed on Moisés’s blank face. A smile formed on the cook’s stern face. And not for a moment did they remember that they were more than seventy years old. AS THE JUST-ARRIVED SHEEP greedily ripped into the grass with their teeth, filling the air with the sound of stubble being pulled and torn, I sat down under the big old cork tree. I stretched out my legs, and the sheepdog looked at me with a mournful gaze. A melancholy gaze that didn’t last
time José took to walk those few yards was greater than the time that flowed in his veins or the time of silence between heartbeats. It was a frozen time. Frozen. With thrushes and other birds frozenly flying in the sky that slid past them in an afternoon that refused to die. It was a dead time of anxiety. So much time passed. And, after so much time, José saw the house come toward him. It was finally night. He stood before the door, and entered. On the table the lamp’s recently lit wick
tells me that he’s coming. He’s walking this way. I feel in my body his body walking, his footsteps neither fast nor slow. I feel in my body his simple ideas and sincere intentions. I feel in my face his manly and boyish expression, the expression of a boy who had to hurry into manhood. He’s coming. And when the afternoon relents and the heat becomes milder, he’ll arrive. Coming from the direction of the farmstead, he’ll arrive and, seeing me, he’ll start running, the way a fearful child runs to
together like a little girl, I joined my feet together, and looked at the floor, without seeing the floor, focusing only on the edges of my gaze and on the silence. He also sat still, shifting now and then only to get comfortable in the uncomfortable chair, and he never stopped looking at me, with a rat’s eyes, as if he were examining a fearful object. We sat there like that for two hours, face-to-face without talking, just feeling each other’s presence, intimidated by each other’s presence. And
the handle, twirled it, and made it strike exactly where he wanted, with a bang that came from the depths of the earth or of men or of who knows what. In the yard the apprentice sifted spadefuls of sand, and with a hoe Salomão mixed the sand with cement and water into a coherent but not stiff mixture, soft but not runny. When Master Rafael had finished opening the hole, Salomão went to the toolbox to fetch a chisel and a carpenter’s hammer and made the oval hole into a rectangular shape. Even