Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Accidentally launched

Well, it was Olive; yes, you could not have predicted that. I had placed my bets on Butterfly. But Olive it was who killed not just Elegant Effendi but Black's Enishte too. If you are clueless about what I am going on about, remember I have just emerged from the depths of Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red, emerged only to dive deep into another fantastic book, The Accidental.

This is the first book of Ali Smith's I am reading, and I am bowled over. I am in the middle of it by now, and when I say middle, I mean Middle, because Ali divides her book into neat partitions: Beginning, Middle and End. Barely two days into it and I am on page 189 already.

Smith is very intelligent, for one. The depth of her perception grabs you by the ear. The book reminded me of the stream of consciousness style of Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse, in its interconnection of various strands that provide a binding narrative to the book. Events happen and they are linked by people's emotions invested in them, their misunderstandings, what they thought the others thought, and what actually transpired. The web of crossed connections is simply superb.

But for all that, Smith is very contemporary. She makes references of David Beckham and Yann Martel within the story. Her characters lead empty lives, but Smith imbues their emptiness with a questioning embrace, rescuing them from drabness. Her people cry against invisibility, most of all from themselves. There is a constant looking in, in the best tradition of the modernists.

True, the book is about Astrid's unannounced entry into the Smart household; yes, its about how this stranger reforms the screwed up family, but it's equally about why life, the stuff of it, is reason enough, is glorious all right.


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