Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Shantaram

This book took me FOREVER. It never seemed to end. I bought it while on vacation in September with Squiggles, in Thailand. It was one of those 'read because everyone was talking about it' books. I started it immediately, but put it down way too much due to the fact that it was 1000 pages!

Mr. Gregory David Roberts is a skilled story teller. Does he ramble on sometimes? Yes. Does it all seem to tie in? Yes. I enjoyed his writing style most of the time, some of the time however, he described a little too much. The protagonist is egotistical, thrives on power provided by the Bombay mafia, and tortured by emotions ALL THE TIME. If I was dating the character Linbaba, I would 1) Tell him drugs are probably what gives him grief and strides of depression. 2) Get OVER Karla already, she is kinda weird anyways. And 3) Having daddy issues shouldn't drive you towards a life of crime.  

SPOILER
"As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power."

Linbaba is a martyr, he starts off in the slums, set up a Free Clinic (albeit by mistake). He is an ex-con escaped from Australia. He ends up working as a mafiosi, running jobs for the Bombay Mafia, and somehow ends up in Afghanistan to aid and fight along side Warlord / Mafia Lord Khader Khan. In his spare time, he managed to spur some money laundering business with the Bollywood industry and even managed to learn Marathi and of course -- fall in love.

This pseudo-biography seems to drag on and on and even in the last few pages, Linbaba is still experiencing conflict and events. Whether Gregory David Roberts actually experienced the things in this book or didn't -- I'm not one to judge. But I do want to say, "You could have cut and edited about half the book!"

My experience: I fell in love with the first part of the book (which is like 168 pages) and anything beyond part one... well it was too late to just stop. What baffled me was all the good things I had heard some of my friends say about this book. I have come to the conclusion that, well... my friends have only ever read ONE book over 900+ pages. My poor choice: I decided to just buck up and finish the book. If I can part onto thee any advice -- this book will make you love it or hate it. Treat it like vegemite, give it a try -- and see if it's your cup of tea. (For the record: I love vegemite -- but not this book.)  
The last paragraph, on this page, is what kept me going...


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