Thursday, 6 May 2010

SHANTARAM, a critique and a passion

Do you ever reread books that just make you stop in your tracks?
I'm an avid reader of detective novels and women's stories I devour them. If the story is enthralling me I just can't wait to find out the ending. I'm known to rush through not reading properly in my haste to know who-dun-it or whatever.

But I have just read a book that didn't let me do that.I bought this book for Kit's last birthday. Now my eldest son reads really intelligent books, not the tripe I get through. I understand that he loves the beauty of words and I love escaping into a ripping yarn.

However when I was staying with him recently I finished whatever book I'd taken with me and I picked up the book I'd bought for him the year before. And I was hooked.

933 pages of being hooked. Every word read carefully and lots of paragraphs read again so that I fully got the essence of the words. It's taken me three weeks to read, which is slow by my standards.I haven't read anything that I so wanted to absorb all the words and let them flow over me for a very long time, or if ever.

The story line in this book is quite disturbing. It's sold as a novel, but in fact it echoes what the author went through during the 1980s. But it's not the story line that got me. It is the spiritual words intermingled throughout as the protagonist travels on his journey. It is a violent, and at times very disturbing book. So the juxtaposition of violence and emotional intelligence makes it an absorbing read. The journey from hellish real times into inner peace that we all crave.The desperate need for light after the darkness. The need for meaning, that existentialist need to find our own souls that enables us to cope alone emotionally however our life circumstances are. We will leave this life alone and we all need to get there knowing inner peace. This book touches that again and again in my opinion

The author Gregory David Roberts, has indeed lived a life very few people will ever come close to. But for him to be able to write with such spiritual growth and development, blows me away.

I'm so totally impressed with Shantaram that I've even gone and bought another three copies, so I can give them to people I think will appreciate their essence.

I'll finish this with some of his own words, in fact the very last paragraph as this sums up all our lives, however our journeys are. And I hope that if you ever come across this book that you'll pick it up and love it as much as I do.

" For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add all our little consequences to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for a truth other than our own. With longing: the pure,ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on."

Gregory David Roberts - Shantaram


Angela said...

Wise, touching words! Both from him and you. Yes, I will try to find this book. It seems like a very good read, thank you, Mandy. And actually I think, you are already doing this - putting one step at a time forward (or how did he put it? My English is deteriorating, someone must come and help me up!)
Have a lovely day! I promise I`ll find that stork for you.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Wow, sounds like a fantastic book, I'll have to keep an eye out for a copy. Usually I'm like you, it's all about the ripping yarn! BG Xx

Val said...

i loved this book so much and i must read it again - you have reminded me. it was fabulous. like you i usually race thru fiction chasing the plot, but some books i can revisit over and over. Secret Life of Bees is one that i have read several times. Now i must find a copy of Shantaram - lent mine out - cant remember who to...
thanks Mandy xx

Mel said...

Ohhhhhhhhh...excellent choice! :-)

Yup--there's a darkness in the read and an overwhelming sense of spiritualness that flows through those 900 pages.

Isn't that last bit so well said?

Fireblossom said...

To me, a book I can get lost in and which makes me feel and think and come away a little different, is one of life's true joys.

Thoreau said, "Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written." There is much to be said for slowing down a little, I think.

I am reading an amazing book right now by Rhodi Hawk, called "A Twisted Ladder." It's a novel about a rather spooky and cursed Louisiana clan.

Thanks for the passionate review!

Twiglet said...

A brilliant review - I will look out for it. I read anything that takes my fancy and yes I am a bit like you and tend to read too fast to absorb the language. When one does captivate you, as this has done, then you know it must be really good! Thanks.

Merry ME said...

Byrd, I would probably shy away from a 900 page book. Probably take me 6 months to read it. But I'm putting this one on my list. Your review has made me curious. The last paragraph has hooked me so that I feel like I'm being reeled in.

Loved Fireblossom's quote from Thoreau.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love your flower pictures?

Helen said...

That is a mighty powerful paragraph! Thank you so much for the review and recommendation .... will be looking for it.

AkasaWolfSong said...

You certainly have piqued my curiosity so I've written it down and the next time I visit the library (in a few days time) I will definitely look this one up!

I love the books that cause us to pause and consider...I'm an avid reader and love just about anything you put in my path except Sci-fi...

Thanks for the review and heads up!


Pam said...

At times when I feel we, on this planet are just not getting it right, I think our 'humaness' lies in still striving. Just the act of getting up each day and facing challenges, continuing on, because of, and in spite of many things is noble.Not giving up. I think I would enjoy this book Mandy. Thanks for mentioning it.

Beatnheart said...

Something I need to find...seems a very important read...Thanks for your visit Mandy and always kind and encouraging comments..

karen said...

I also loved reading Shantaram, which I completed a month or two ago. It was very moving in so many ways!

nitebyrd said...

I'm off to add this to my Amazon Wish List. The book sounds like one I will very much enjoy. Thank you for the recommendation!