Charlie has a new job. He gets to travel, and he meets interesting people, some of whom are actually pleased to see him.
It’s good to have a friendly face, you see. At the end.
But the end of all things is coming. Charlie’s boss and his three associates are riding out, and it’s Charlie’s job to go before.
Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.
This book was quite different from the things I usually read, and it was beautiful.
We follow Charlie as the Harbinger of Death on some of his visits. He goes to Greenland to visit a scientist on the ice, he visits an elderly man and his granddaughter who are being kicked out of their flat in London, he goes to Syria and witnesses the war, he goes to Nigeria to visit a lesbian woman, and he goes to the USA filled with fear of immigrants.
I was a bit hesitant to pick up this book. It sounded so interesting, but after having a rough week picking up a book about death didn’t seem like the best idea. The thing is, I expected this to be a sad and emotional read, but it is not. This isn’t a story about death, this is a story about the Harbinger of Death… what comes before Death. It celebrates Life.
I go for the living, I speak to the living, I honour the living I honour life I honour life. I honour that they are living before they die to see death is to see life the life that lives…
This is very topical read. It talks about Brexit, it talks about a wall between the USA and Mexico, it talks about Black Lives Matter, it talks about IS, it talks about climate change. Charlie visits the people there and shows the reader their points of view. The reader isn’t asked to agree with them, or to sympathize with them. We are just shown that, the leader of the KKK was also a man, who at some points dies just like all other humans do. These small insights are also given in the chapters where you feel like you just walk through the street or sit at a bar, and hear short snippets from other people’s conversations. All in all it makes you think and raises questions.
We are fighting for a better land, we are fighting for freedom. We wish only to have hope again in our lives, to have a safe place for our mothers, our children. We wish for justice. We wish for holidays. We wish to go walking in the sea and eat ice cream. We wish for antibiotics when our brothers are sick. We wish for a job that finishes at six o’clock in the afternoon. we wish to pay rent, to cook food with our own hands, good food, to taste cinnamon again. We wish to decorate our homes, and smell fresh paint, and be proud of the lives we have built. We wish to practice our beliefs, piously and in peace. We wish to know our neighbours, and play simple games, and read books, and watch the TV. Is this so much? Is this more than any man desires? … I knew I would stay and fight, for my family, for my friends, for my beliefs, and I thought perhaps you were a warning that this fight would kill me, and I should flee, take the road to Europe, where your governments say that we are not people as you are, and you build walls to stop us coming.
My only issue with this book is that it has no plot. We just follow Charlie as he visits all these people. There is no question the reader wants answered, there is no feeling of ‘what’s next’, there is no problem that needs to be solved. This made it difficult for me to pick up the book at times. Once I was reading the interesting stories and beautiful, almost poetic, writing would keep me captivated. The short chapters also really helped me to keep going and not put down the book. But every time one of Charlie’s trips would wrap up, I missed that bit of mystery to keep you wondering about what would happen next.