Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 3 November 2003

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy (Flamingo, 1997)

For the most part I liked this (there was indeed a conscious attempt to deal with both ends of the scale mentioned in the title). The language was colourful and the interjected character observation pertinent though I found some of the stylistic habits irritating after a while. Do you like this? "With cool stone floors and dim walls and billowing ship-shaped shadows. Plump, translucent lizards lived behind old pictures, and waxy, crumbling ancestors with tough toe-nails and breath that smelled of yellow maps gossiped in sibilant, papery whispers" (p.53). If so, then you're in luck - the imagery is repeated 2 or 3 times, sometimes in bulk. Parts of

And Later became a horrible, menacing, goose-bumpy word.
Like a deep-sounding bell in a mossy well. Shivery, and furred. Like moth's feet.

(p.145) are repeated. Of course, it's valid to do so, though it sometimes seems as if any striking image has to be repeated. By the time we reach "A funnel of mosquitoes, like an inverted dunce cap, whined over her head" (p.269) we're rather expecting something like "[they] had each acquired personal mosquito funnels" (p.276). In places perhaps more editing would help - "he quoted long passages from them for no apparent reason. Or at least none that anyone else could fathom" (p.38) sounds long winded to me and in

Then it was time for dinner.
'Supper, silly,' Sophie Mol said when Estha was sent to call her.
At supper silly, the children sat at a separate smaller table.

(p.329) it sounds as if the author more than any of the characters gets hooked on a phrase.

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