Exquisitely written, as Ondaatje (always?) is - that overused word 'lyrical' applies in spades here - and more, the lyricism is connected to a set ofExquisitely written, as Ondaatje (always?) is - that overused word 'lyrical' applies in spades here - and more, the lyricism is connected to a set of intriguing, complex, deeply hurt and deeply feeling characters. Others comment on the fragmented nature of the narrative; for me, I was (due to life circumstances) only able to read/listen to this in snatches, and I think that actually minimized any disruption I might have felt had I been consuming this prose in longer stretches.
But wait - that is not quite right; one of the things I loved so much about this was the circular nature of the storyline. Ondaatje loops back and forward in time and place; we learn characters' fates while they are still vigorously present in earlier (or later) timelines; we learn how they are connected to each other in ways that seem happenstance, even accidental. Minor details we might have missed early on reappear later as crucially important. A black-jacketed sleeper in a hospital emergency room. A teacher walking to school in the early morning.
Later we learn who these people are; what they mean to each other. The details of their lives - like the skeleton whose identity is the central concern of forensic pathologist Anil and archaologist Sarath for much of the story - matter, although they need to be carefully observed and put together, like a puzzle. It's a brilliant device/conceit on Ondaatje's part.
I loved Anil, of course. Her sadness and conflict and passion are the focal point of much of the novel. But really, it is the side characters who left even more of an impression on me - Gamini; Palipana; Ananda - and the tragedy and pathos of their lives as described and as recollected.
The imagery at the end is heartbreaking, but also full of grace and beauty. After so much war, torture, death and disintegration, the ending is strangely peaceful and loving. Bucolic. The resolution (view spoiler)[and symbolism of the reconstruction of the Buddha (hide spoiler)] seems perfect.
I had pretty much no idea who was who, what was going on, or why any of it mattered at any point during this audio book, but I did appreciate the hardI had pretty much no idea who was who, what was going on, or why any of it mattered at any point during this audio book, but I did appreciate the hard-boiled noir aspects. :-D
P.S. my favourite part was when the reader - whose Norwegian accent sounded Bahamian, and whose Russian accent sounded like a toddler with a mouth full of marbles - read a line uttered by the main character (who himself had just perpetrated a bad accent during a sneaky phone call) that "accents were hard." bwahahahaha...more
Patricia McConnell is a fantastic writer about troubled doggies and the relationships and practices that help them. Unfortunately this - a venture intPatricia McConnell is a fantastic writer about troubled doggies and the relationships and practices that help them. Unfortunately this - a venture into a more literary memoir - falls flat on a number of fronts. Most seriously, her straightforward, scientifically-informed style, which works so well in a non-fiction dog training book, does not translate to material that is personal. McConnell's attempts to be literary result in too-frequent and hackneyed similes and endless descriptions of landscapes and birdsong. But what really matters is treated so matter-of-factly that the drama and power of it is lost. It's too bad because the nugget at the heart of the story is fascinating and important. The idea of equating and exploring the experience and influence of trauma in and on a dog and his human could have provided useful and riveting insights. ...more
Compelling story, as the first one. Great protagonist and great - subtle - look at the Inuit way of life, here when transplanted to the 'south' - i.e.Compelling story, as the first one. Great protagonist and great - subtle - look at the Inuit way of life, here when transplanted to the 'south' - i.e., Alaska. I am wondering how much Marsha Killenberg (sp? I didn't read, but listened) was modelled on Palin? (and if so, what a GREAT dig).
But also, man oh man, the plot complexity and layers of twists and coincidences started to pile up like snow on an Arctic plain, until it threatened to veer wildly out of control like an Iditarod sled on a downhill slope. Speaking of which, what the hell was the tie-in between that narrative and the central Edie-driven one?
So: flawed but redeemed by otherwise strong story-telling and a wallop of an ending. Plus, dogs. :-)
I look forward to the final in this series....more