Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shalimar the Clown

Initially there is the first page judgement. You pick up a book and read the first few lines and see whether you get hooked. Then you read, over the course of that reading you may decide that a) this book is great, b) this book is pants or c) I’m not sure about this book. When you finish the book you return to the multiple choice question above. Next week, when you are still pondering over response a, b or c, you may slowly realise that actually this book is really rather good for having accompanied you this long. Next year when you are still recommending it as a ‘must read’ you realise it is really rather excellent. And in a few years time you realise there are parts of the writing that have reached inside of you and are now part of you.

I woke up this morning and decided that I would finish Shalimar the Clown a brief snippet here and a few pages caught there were no longer sufficient; it needed my full undivided attention. I hadn’t even given it the First Page Judgement. I saw that Rushdie had a new novel out and I wanted to read it. As I read it I vacillated between response a, b and c. Where was this book going? Why was the writing so different in each part? I wasn’t even sure that I liked any of the main characters. It’s a novel so full of violence, hatred and anger that by the end I felt desensitized and had almost forgotten that it began as a sensual love story. I felt I should be judging right or wrong, but didn’t even know where to begin and as I began to try and deconstruct and understand Rushdie’s aim I began to realise that he had achieved it: this is the story of Kashmir – beautiful and brutal.

So at present I give the book an a, only the test of time will tell whether it’s still an a next week, if I recommend it next year or whether it becomes a part of me.

Of course I do realise that this is my opinion and that you may completely disagree with me and that as a book review I’ve told you practically nothing about the book.

5 comments:

Myra said...

you exactly have told what i usually feel when i first read a book.
i wanna tell you that this had happened to me with "The Picture of Dorian Gray" i feel that it is a part of me and my thoughts now.
great explanation of how you judge a book.

Verilion said...

Hi Myra, thanks for the comment. Yeah I really enjoyed Dorian Gray too, there is certainly a lot in there to stay with you. I popped by to your blog and loved the photo, will pop by again. V

Atyllah said...

Isn't it so strange that books can do this - move from an a to a c an vascillate inbetween. It's those ones that haunt you long after you've put them down that are always the best though.

Verilion said...

Yep haunt you is a good way of putting it. I guess another way of judging books is if you're not ready to start another straight away as you still need to time to think about the last one.

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