Well, I finally finished it. A friend who is an avid reader, and more to my point, a socially avid reader, in that she participates in a book group, tells me that she knows a number of people who have not finished it. A number of people. She had told me this before I finished, but I don’t think it spurred me on. Although I do carry some baggage around my multiple failed attempts to finish Gravity’s Rainbow.
I thought I would feel relieved when I finished. Not just because I had been finding it hard to stick with, but also because I was out of renewals at the library and was reading it on ever more costly overdues.
I didn’t feel relieved. I felt disappointed, at first, and actually I felt an expected disappointment. There had come a point in my reading The God of Small Things when I started expecting ultimate disappointment. I lost faith. But then, having finished, I read the laconic author bio on the back sleeve, and “first book” restored my faith. After all, I had enjoyed beautifully conjured settings, lush atmospheres, and an important social commentary. I suspect it will be memorable. My disappointment was only with a payoff that did not match its buildup. (Nor would I want it to. The payoff was fine. It needed less buildup.) A structural thing, really, and that reminds me of the kind of chop that gets honed with practice.
I hope Arundhati Roy will write a second book.