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.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

"The Alchemy of Desire" by Tarun J Tejpal (Picador, 2005)

I think his extended metaphors (the jacket, starting at the end of p.21; the ship, starting at the end of p.27) go on too long. His lists of happy things are too long as well. He's more restrained when dealing with sadness. With the coming storm (p.40)

the nightjar sleeping feather-to-feather with the bulbul and the thrush. A million moths would flatten themselves inside hollow tree trunks, and prepare for a hungry night. Many hundred families would move their lips in practised prayer

I like the plot of the narrator's projected novel, even moreso the description of his work with Amresh (p.97-). Sometimes I find the pace too fast - on p.304 it says "Even now, so many years later, I find it difficult to fully understand how it happened so quickly", but that doesn't excuse the lack of detail at that point. The "Kama: Desire" section on the other hand is too slow - sections of it could have been edited away. Page 420 repeats a paragraph or so of p.118 to emphasize a parallel - no wonder the book's so long!

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