In this novel we follow Senor Jose, a clerk at the Central Registry (where all births, marriages, and deaths are noted) who suddenly decides to track down a woman whose card of information strikes him for some reason. The search takes this lonely 50-something man into terrain for which he is not prepared, yet he continually finds newfound courage with every step.Saramago's setting is unidentifiable in terms of place, time, or even reality. There is an otherworldly feel to the story, and even the Central Registry is out of touch with its own time. We know there are answering machines and cars, but the Central Registry has one phone and everything is written down by hand. The description of the Registry is fascinating in its description of order without reason, creating a head person (the Registrar) who is almost godlike in his existence. Saramago creates an atmosphere which is dark, oppressive, and ruled by fear. This setting makes the end of the novel (which I will not reveal) even more surprising.Have recently read Borges and reaching back in time to Kafka, there are clear echoes of both of these writers. The mystical and the absurd colliding to cast a light on our existence, depressing as it may be. In the end I cannot say "what this book is about," but I will doubtless be pondering it for sometime.In my last blog I mentioned Saramago's writing style, which appears here as well. I found the following description of his writing in a NY Times article which sums it up well:Saramago’s most distinctive trademark is his punctuation, or rather the lack of it. His fictions are constructed in run-on sentences disrupted by only commas, a flood of prose in which narrative observation, individuals’ thoughts and dialogue go unmarked. In addition, many of his books refer to one another, and all the characters talk exactly alike, giving their conversations the feel of an internal monologue. It is as if a continuous reel of a silent film were being projected in a movie theater that is empty save for one extremely garrulous spectator.