Although Jose Saramago's memoir of his childhood, SMALL MEMORIES, is short, it contains many moving passages. I had decided that it was basically musings of a great writer-- BLINDNESS is a book I would take on an island--who was in his twilight and that his muse for the most part had left him. Then I came upon his description of his beloved grandfather (and wished I could read Portugese) that is as good as anything I can remember reading: "He is a man like many others on this earth, in this world, perhaps an Einstein crushed beneath a mountain of impossibilities, a philosopher, a great illiterate writer. Something he could never be."
Saramago's remembrance of his grandmother is just as good: "There you were, grandma, sitting on the sill outside your house, open to the vast, starry night, to the sky of which you knew nothing and through which you would never travel, to the silence of the fields and the shadowy trees, and you say, with all the serenity of your ninety years and the fire of an adolescence never lost: `The world is so beautiful, it makes me sad to think I have to die.'"
Poor by the world's standards and from a family of illiterates, Saramago recounts his falling in love with language and literature to become, against all odds, one of the great writers of all time.
SMALL MEMORIES is in short a little treasure.