Every once in a while it happens. The urge to write, to keep the blog going, while there really isn’t much going on. As always topics swirl around at random points. None materializing when the laptop’s in front. There is no blank state of mind either to go on, and the topic has been done to death from my side too!
Two books read, none going to be reviewed. There was ‘The Hungry Tide’, which I managed to finish over 20 days. Not a huge novel, but it felt like a long vacation in the Sunderbans. The characters lacked depth which kinda helped reinforce the vacation feeling. It felt like going somewhere new, and meeting and getting to know the people there over a few days superficially and cordially, making sure you guard yourselves from each other, and you return fully aware you’ll never meet them again, and don’t want to either. Stories of the presiding deity there – BonBibi, man-animal conflicts, man-man conflicts, immigrants, are covered well enough and that’s what keeps it going. Reading Ghosh has become a kind of vacation where you travel to some place/era and soak in there while the book lasts, the plot and the characters only serving to help you understand the place better – sometimes drawn with as much stereotype as possible.
For a while I thought this might be his best yet that I’ve read, but ‘The Glass Palace’ still holds that place. There was more flesh to the characters there, apart from the wonderful yarn he spins through history. But I’ll be taking a break for sure from Ghosh for a while. I want to resume the Ibis trilogy, but the price of ‘River of Smoke’ is prohibitive yet!
After ‘The Hungry Tide’ I moved on to ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’. I got this as a second hand book and was surprised to see some existing inscription about it being a gift for someone. And it was dated 1997!!
It took me a while to get used to Rushdie’s prosetry. The language, its twists, the sudden monologues with ‘the Reader’ need getting used to. Once that’s out of the way and he moves onto the story of Moor’s mother Aurora Zogoiby the book is a breeze and that is the most interesting part. Aurora stays the central character in the book with the rest of Moor’s world – his father, sisters, the workers, revolving around her. Somehow the same seems to hold for Rushdie too. He invests her character with a lot. Having created a painter he goes to painstaking detail describing her works. Being a leftist, rationalist activist, who is supposedly a friend of Nehru, he paints the India of that time through her eyes and words – the ‘-ofy’ing of key verbs is a superb touch (chokeofy, washofy etc). The story gains steam only on her entry and loses it just as fast once she’s out of the scene all of a sudden.
Once Aurora is out of the story, he creates a Bal Thackeray parody and digs deep into him with gusto. Its all a tad too easy and Rushdie almost makes you root for the fundamentalists! You’ve just seen and read too much of it. The ending was a plod and I had no empathy or interest in Moor. He leaves the ending a tad open and I kinda wanted to close the book by that time.
Oh well, I guess I really did end up reviewing the books then, might as well tag them as one.