We’re here, finally. Yesterday I finished my latest novel, which has been a long time coming. I started writing while still at the university, planning my master thesis. About the worst time possible to begin a novel, but sometimes, the words just want out.
Such a strange feeling after so long. A strange sort of vacuum. Waiting … but for what? Definitely waiting. And thinking: What next?
The messy stomach of my computer has another novel waiting … begun, far from finished. The shelves in my office hold meters of books I long to read. And life, well, life demands my presence as much as ever: clothes to be washed, pots to be rinsed, a dog to walk, pick up kids from kindergarten, cook, clean, play, talk, love …
Still, this waiting for something.
On the kitchen counter, next to the coffee machine, sits a half-finished novel. One from the many meters of Books To Read. I started it a few nights ago. I love it, but I am having a hard time reading it because it makes me cry all the time. It’s Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things.
It’s so well-written, and so sad. Honest, brutal, beautiful.
(Ever since I had the kids, I cry all the time. I bet some mothers out there know the feeling. Even the smallest things make me tear up, and definitely The God of Small Things.) I already gave it five stars on Goodreads. Even now I know it deserves it. It takes skill, depicting life like this. And it takes courage. I read some one-star reviews out of curiosity. One critic was angry that Arundhati Roy hadn’t made a happy ending. This puzzled me. I read it again. Yes, this person is angry that the story ends in sadness. Why, this is the whole point! This story, albeit fiction, is depicting life as it is. Not as it ought to be. This is writing! Writing with talent, with skill, with emotion and aesthetics all at play. This is moving the reader, moving the world with words alone. This is the heart of literature; what it can do and what it should do! Move something, do something, be something all on its own by its own heart.
I have read many authors that falls in category with The God of Small Things. To name a few: Ladoo, Achebe, Rushdie, Dabydeen, Coetzee. They have this in common that they depict the emotion, the sights, sounds, and smells of being there, living there, being stuck in this place, it’s about place, really. It gets to you, definitely, if you read with your heart. You want to help, to save, to do something.
And, why, isn’t this exactly what ought to happen when you read? You’re moved! The constructed words, formed by heart and brain of the artist, they form a life of their own, and they move from the text to you, into your heart and brain and they move you. You’re transported from your everyday life into a world formed by author, text and you, and here, you meet, you experience something else, something new, and you return to your everyday world, changed by the meeting with the world of the book. This is aesthetic experience! This is beautiful! And Arundhati Roy does it so well.
I guess, it all comes down to why you read. What are you looking for in a book? Pass-time? Quick and easy entertainment? Or do you want to immerse yourself in the experience of another world, life, experience, thought, feeling, knowing this might change your entire universe. Books can do that.
Now, go read something!