Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Willy Willie

(see this from the amazon giants if you desire).

In revision mode, I did Half a life by Naipaul again this week. My husband hates Naipaul. Not sure why. I suppose he is a crusty old whatchammaycallit. But I like his books. You know trying to not judge a book based on the fact that the author is annoying (or at least many people find him annoying, I don't presume to know him at all so why be annoyed?). Although I have not read it recently, Mystic Masseur I did really like. In a way its a Gerald Durrell, only of people and not animals. At least thats the way I look at it.

Willie Chandran. I am glad to meet you again. I understand your choices. I understand how you felt in the presence of 'greatness' in London, and how it at the same time gave you a sense of your own smallness, and your potential. I understand your brief, unsustained urge to write and your ability to churn out stories, in a way, your lack of ability to stem the stories that burst out of you. Yes. I like the bougainvilla-lined African house you describe as filled with ancient furniture not your own. I especially like your fear of the walking Africans!

If you try to read it like a textbook, where you will find answers, of course, the book leaves you completely unsatisfied. It resolves nothing. Should Willie's father have semi-married that girl that at once repulsed and attracted him so? Should they have had the audacity to produce not one, but two children given their shaky situation? Is Sarojini the better? Is Willie a weak and meek dumbass? I think no statement is made on these. Its there for you to take as it is. I like that.

That is what got me thinking about traditions and my own upbringing if you will and so on. Willie's fathers predicament and disillusionment and his half-baked way of protesting. The way he thought that he must stand up against discrimination because of the coolness factor and some notion of what Gandhi said, but he was not genuine. It is an introspective piece, at least it was for me, and I liked it, and am glad it graces my bookshelf, and I do not regret that I read it again.

6 comments:

dipali said...

I used to enjoy Naipaul, some decades ago. I loved A House for Mr.Biswas, The Suffrage of Elvira, Mystic Masseur( the details of which are gone from my mind so totally-I need to re-read it).
But his pontificating is annoying.

wordjunkie said...

I've liked his work too, even the rather disdainful descriptions of India and Indians (in his non fiction). His language is compelling.
Shall go read this book too.

choxbox said...

i am guilty of mixing up my prejudices about the author with his works i guess..

kbpm said...

dipali, wordjunkie, yes i agree can be annoying. but at times i find myself agreeing with his 'disdainful descriptions' as you put it.
chox - thats the same as my husband. its nothing to be guilty about. its your call (and his)!

As for me, my husband insists I am a 'Des-Ist' (not as in cease and desist, but as in a person who is racist towards desis), and thats the reason Naipaul appeals to me.

I argue that I am objective. I am sure both of us are right (or wrong).

anyhow, i do like both his fiction and non-fiction stuff (even if I dont agree with his stance on everything).

Artnavy said...

have a few Naipauls that I am yet to read

here from chox to tell u to carry on with the fridge magent tag

kbpm said...

artnavy
yes dear will do soon