Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Crystal Ship

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I made my previous post. Anyway, it is written.

I'm also not sure what the fuss about The God of Small Things is all about. Reading about the plastic watch, rose colored glasses, cinemas with red carpets took me back to my childhood in India. Of noisy South Indian Hindu weddings. Of colorful silk sarees, gold and perfumes. Of rain, sweet tea and terribly small shorts. Chaddis. Of the maid who'd seen 2 generations of my family grow up. Of her alcoholic, wife beating, abusive husband. Of the smell of arrack, toddy and paan.

And despite the premise I was made to dig through a compost pit of metaphors, puns and similies. Badly rhyming poetry written in prose. A Pulitzer Booker (thanks Narco!) for the shrill voice of a douchebag "activist". An author trying ever so hard to stretch a short story into a cynical view of the caste barriers in India.

I've heard of sexploitation, blaxploitation, Cannibal Holocaust, and much more. And yet, I struggle to find a term to describe the whoring of the mess that is rural India. We, the Indian people, get our panties in a bunch when a movie is made about the slums of Bombay Mumbai. Which, incidentally, exist. And yet, when something like this comes along to pander to the tastes of crusty book clubs, we wet our pants in absolute joy.

A child need not be very clever,
To learn that "later, dear" means "never".


Yeah. Give him a prize.

10 comments:

Purely Narcotic said...

Before you slip into unconsciousness...

Ahem. And Ouch. So much noise!

When I read AR 12 years ago, I was quite astounded by all that imagery of egg white in the cinema hall and some such. Back then for a teenager, it was the first step towards getting the panties in a bunch. And if I remember correctly, the book ends with the word 'Naaley'. Never in adultspeak perhaps? ;)

Kaunmago says your word verification thingy. 'Yen mago' same to same sounds, I say ;)

a million different people said...

PN >> You read AR when you were 12/13 years old? Whoa. Oh-kay.

Purely Narcotic said...

I had a disturbed childhood. Pardon me ;)

Thanatos said...

@ Narcotic

Impressive!

Noise? I used three paras, how many pages did she use? :)

Purely Narcotic said...

Aiyyo, I meant that wedding bit. Noise-Noisy-Nosy? ;)

I don't think AR won the Pulitzer(unless youre talking about somebody else). I remember the hype surrounding the Booker though.

The woman has a knack for the details. However, it would be a good companion read for some movie like Before the Rains, where all the images are beautiful in themselves but strung together they are (almost) worthless.

Thanatos said...

Ah, the ahem in your first comment makes sense now. Good, the italics worked :P

Yeah, I don't mind the details - Tolkien anyone? But just couldn't get the feeling that AR was trying a little too hard to unleash her arsenal of metaphors. Not my style I guess.

Purely Narcotic said...

I agree with you there. It gets tiring to read something like a simple story overloaded with that poetic crapola. It's not fantasy so the veins on the leaves of the creeper that crept up like a tired serpent around the coconut tree that stood like the Patriach in the courtyard of the ancestral home serving as a constant reminder of the different lines of blood running in the family or whatever makes the whole storyline sag under its weight. It's almost like AR knew she had to squeeze in all that she could in one book and she did.

The details standing on their own could make for good inspiration to an artist or photographer, you know sharpen the mind's eye, make one more observant but in a whole novel, it's tiring. (Exactly how it is in Santosh Sivan's film Before the rains, something like focusing on the protagonist's earring doesn't add anything to the film, it doesn't add to the storyline, nothing. It's a ohsopretty moment and that's it.)

Rassles said...

I read it as a teenager as well, and I didn't understand a lick of it from the heavy, sociopolitical standpoint. Then again, I read it as a little white girl in the suburbs of Chicago who thought the cover was pretty.

So for me, what stood out was the thickness of the imagery and prose.

Thanatos said...

@Narcotic : Guess I'll put that movie on my list then...

@ Rassles

Yeah, and that's the tragedy of it all. The part of India the book is set in is very unique, even by Indian standards. A wasted opportunity that still got mainstream attention...

Rassles said...

Kind of like when people read The Great Gatsby, and think all Americans are aristocratic money-hungry cheaters.

Well...