Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Literary Garbage

Shantaram. Read the back cover, and it sounds like a rip-roaring tale. The Telegraph describes it as "a literary classic". At 900 pages long, it's one of those books lots of travellers recommend, but you never meet anyone close enough to the end to swap it for one of yours. I saw many copies last year, and finally got my mitts on one this June. I wish I hadn't bothered lugging the weighty bastard about. I usually mention good books on here, as they are gold dust for people on the road. Gregory's long-winded tome is 900 sheets of spare bog-roll but, honestly, you'd be embarrassed to wipe your arse on it.

My mate Kit actually congratulated me on finishing it. She got to page 80, and couldn't stop laughing. His prose is quite laughable, Kit described it as being written by a 15-year-old schoolboy. Indeed, if I'd seen the guy's website, I'd never have picked it up: what a first-grade tool.

The story tells of how he beats heroin, escapes from a maximum-security prison in Australia, makes it to India and lives in a slum, learns Hindi and sets up a free clinic, works for the Indian mafia, fights for the mujahideen in Afghanistan, falls in love, falls out of love etc etc. All this before tea-time. Bollocks.

If he cut the book down to 4-500 pages (believe me, he could) then I wouldn't have had an issue, as the overly elaborate descriptions would have been stripped out. Every time his beloved appeared, I took a deep breath before wading through the paragraph-long description of her eyes, hair and skin. His underlying themes of Life, The Univers And Everything make your eyes bleed, quite frankly; I've hear less fishy philosophy in a Broadway Market cafe.

It recently won a Guardian bad sex award. If these paragraphs don't make you want to become a monk and never look at a woman again, nothing will:

"I held Karla as if holding her could heal me, and we didn't make love until night lit the last star in our wide window of sky. Her hands were kisses on my skin. My lips unrolled the curled leaf of her heart. She breathed in murmurs, guiding me, and I spoke rhythm to her, echoing my needs. Heat joined us, and we enclosed ourselves with touch and taste and perfumed sounds. Reflected on the glass, we were silhouettes, transparent images - mine full of fire from the beach, and hers full of stars. And at last, at the end, those clear reflections of our selves melted, merged, and fused together. 
(p658)

I pressed my lips against the sky, and licked the stars into my mouth. She took my body into hers, and every movement was an incantation. Our breathing was like the whole world chanting prayers. Sweat ran in rivulets to ravines of pleasure. Every moment was a satin skin cascade. Within the velvet cloaks of tenderness, our backs convulsed in quivering heat, pushing heat, pushing muscles to complete what minds begin and bodies always win. I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea. And the wailing moan that drove our lips together, at the end, was the world of hope and sorrow that ecstasy wrings from lovers as it floods their souls with bliss."

Pass the bucket, dear boy.

On his website he waxes on about how his book is a "20-layered novel". Crawl out of your own arse, pal; it's got two layers. Layer one is a barely-believable but entertaining enough action tale. Layer two is a pretentious load of hackneyed and plagiarised philosophy an undergraduate with a stupid beard would be ashamed to spout in a London Fields poetry meeting.

Utter shite: avoid.

2 comments:

Juan Escourido-Muriel said...

Wow, the transcript paragraph is pure innovation! : Stars, kisses, healing and heart in the same sentence. What a sensibility!

I'll start to follow this!

old8oy said...

He's like the modern-day Charles Dickens; a man at the top of his game ha ha!