What I loved about Siri Hustvedt’s novel were

* the characterisations and their rich inner life

* the way the story unfolds – the plot is not tightly wound but more of a meandering stream that encounters rocks and rushes now and then

* a glimpse into the life of an artist – how ideas are born, how they are interpreted by the artist and take shape, and how the viewer interprets it

It deals with relationships, love, loss/grief and society/culture. Loss can mean death and you can lose people and love and ideas and dreams because of the way you choices you make. The author discusses concepts like hysteria and eating disorders through the character, Violet. Auschwitz also comes up and though it is not explored deeply, it is lurking in the shadows throughout. (I cannot understand Auschwitz. It’s unreal.) The concept of changeling, where the real is substituted by a replica, is a recurring theme throughout the book appearing in paintings and in real life.

The protagonist is a 50 + male and though the author is a woman, you never doubt the voice. Though I have read women who’ve used male protagonists, I haven’t read too many female authors writing a first person narrative in a man’s voice. It is hard not to be drawn into the unraveling story. The most mundane details of existence are handled with a sophisticated hand and sits securely within the story, at no point does it seem unnecessary or slow down the narrative.

A good read.

*

Finished Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword. Pakistan’s political scenario is shocking. How can it claim to be a democracy? Found the placement of pics interesting – Mir Murtaza sticking his tongue out and General Zia on the other page at the receiving end.

*

Reading a million little pieces by James Frey, a drug addict who managed to break on through to the other side. Was published as a memoir but many facts were found to be embellished later. The style used is very Spontaneous Prose.

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