Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Update on Shantaram

I'm now on page 722. I admit that I have skimmed more than a few pages. There is just a lot of detail about certain things that don't necessarily add to the story, although they may be important for rounding out the story or characters. For example, the main character, when learning about the illegal passport trade, learns for pages and pages all the intricacies of making and selling illegal passports. I understand why the character needs to know this, but I as a reader don't necessarily need to know all the details.

And I also admit - sigh - that I sometimes have to stop and take a few deep breaths. How can so many crazy, crappy things happen to one character? It's almost absurd. And yet, the character is a gunrunner and black marketeer working for the mafia in Bombay. So it's not like nice rosy things are going to happen to him. That wouldn't be realistic at all.

Still, I'm enjoying the book immensely, as evidenced by my quick progress. I'll share with you some favorite passages:

There's a lot of philosophizing, like this: 'Fanaticism is the opposite of love,' I said, recalling one of Khaderbhai's lectures. 'A wise man once told me - he's a Muslim, by the way - that he has more in common with a rational, reasonable-minded Jew than he does with a fanatic from his own religion. He has more in common with a rational reasonable-minded Christian or Buddhist or Hindu than he does with a fanatic from his own religion. In fact, he has more in common with a rational reasonable-minded atheist than he does with a fanatic from his own religion. I agree with him, and I feel the same way. I also agree with Winston Churchill, who once defined a fanatic as someone who won't change his mind and can't change the subject.'

And also some beautiful writing, like this: At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won't stop loving them, even after they're dead and gone. For I still love you with the whole of my heart, Prabaker. I still love you. And sometimes, my friend, the love that I have, and can't give to you, crushes the breath from my chest. Sometimes, even now, my heart is drowning in a sorrow that has no stars without you, and no laughter, and no sleep.

And this: The tears, when they come to some men, are worse than beatings. They're wounded worse by sobbing, men like that, than they are by boots and batons. Tears begin in the heart, but some of us deny the heart so often, and for so long, that when it speaks we hear not one but a hundred sorrows in the heartbreak. We know that crying is a good and natural thing. We know that crying isn't a weakness, but a kind of strength. Still, the weeping rips us root by tangled root from the earth, and we crash like fallen trees when we cry.

And if that doesn't make you want to read it, I don't know what would.


Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

That passage about love brought a little tear to my eye! So beautiful and so true!!!


jay are said...

what remarkable It's worth hundreds of skippable pages to read something like that. Can't wait to get to it (I'm not quite there yet, tho).

nessie said...

Good for you for getting so far into the book so soon. When I was reading the G.R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice series I was going through a thousand pages a day. The art of storytelling is to know what information you give and what you refrain from the reader yet hint at like a secret that you won't tell. Good luck with the rest

Literary Feline said...

Why didn't I pick this up when I was out book shopping today?? I could kick myself!