I’ve always liked the idea of reading and getting lost in my own imagination, though there are few books that I have enjoyed reading for the genius intricacies of structure and allure to the aesthetic use of language. There is a delightful feeling to the way that Jeet Thayil has grabbed my short attention span and slowed down time to use Narcopolis to portray a beautifully broken India.
by Jeet Thayil
[Penguin Books, 2012]
He has a away of painting pictures full of colour, with nothing but the dirty opium smoke that corrupts 1970’s Bombay. From the first page I inhaled all Thayil had to say then slowly let the words sit deep in my lungs as I come to terms with the horrid truth of sex and drugs without the rock and roll.
I’ve considered if Thayil’s amazing ability to emulate the pace of the story line with the mental state of the characters in fact limits the development of individual characters when they are together. Maybe it does! What it also does is construct an amazing feel for the atmosphere of the scenes that your imagination is thrown in to.
There is a moment in the Narcopolis (Penguin, 2012), possibly later than it should, where things began to come together and I began to see the bigger picture. At this point, as with all good literature, reading the book takes a turn where I look at all I have read in retrospect and reflect.
It is not something you want to put down once you have started for the want to find out where it will lead, and the need to not get lost in the momentum the moment creates…
…Alot like that time you found yourself at a house party at 7am after having gone out for a ‘quiet dinner’ Narcopolis has a lovely erratic structure that Thayil strictly sticks to throughout the whole book. Because when the night is over and you look back you can’t explain why you had a good time and you say you would not have done things the same given the opportunity to do it all again but your happy you have lived it, it somehow makes sense and it feels good for the soul.
Mihali Hadjiyianni is an exuberant Cypriot-English human being who drinks, writes poetry and reads. Maybe in that order.