Malone Dies is the first person monologue of Malone, an old man lying in bed and waiting to die. The tone is fiercely ironic, highly quotable, and because of its extravagance, also very comic. It catches the reality of old age in a way that is grimly convincing, cruel as humor so often is, and memorable because of Beckett’s way with words.
Samuel Beckett’s brilliance as a dramatist—as the creator of Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, and that despairing pas de deux Endgame—has tended to overshadow his gifts as a novelist. Yet he’s unmistakably one of the great fiction writers of our century. As a young man he took dictation (literally) from James Joyce, and absorbed everything that myopic maestro had to offer when it came to Anglo-Irish prosody.