Adrianne Mathiowetz's Reviews > The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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Apr 08, 08

Recommended to Adrianne by: Jan
Recommended for: adjective-lovers, women who sometimes fantasize about Going A Little Nuts
Read in April, 2008

Lush, gorgeous prose: reading The God of Small Things is like having your arms and legs tied to a slowly moving, possibly dying horse, and being dragged face-down through the jungle. I mean, like that, only nice. You can't stop seeing and smelling everything, and it's all so foreign and rich. Potentially ripe with e coli.

The similes and metaphors Roy employs are simultaneously tactile and surreal, like an overly vivid dream, and her storytelling style is somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, and Pilgrim's Progress (if you actually read That Particular Gem). Key sentences reappear a few chapters later multiple times throughout the book: the main one, of course, being "Everything can change in the course of a day." And if you're going to repeat a sentence multiple times in a book, that's certainly not a bad one.

The one thing that makes me hesitant to go all out with the five stars is the whole backwards plot development thing. At least early on in the book, it struck me as a little gimmicky, especially since the end result is so dramatic. Estha doesn't talk any more. Why doesn't Estha talk any more? Something must have happened to him. When did it happen to him? As a child, something very bad happened to him as a child. You're probably wondering what that is now, right? Well now let's talk about his aunt. He's got a mom too. This is what their garden is like. Hey, remember Estha, that kid you're wondering about? Yeah, something definitely happened to him as a kid. Keep reading, suckers!

But I shouldn't say that, because, of course, it turns out you're not a sucker for reading this book, and the joke is on me for ever thinking so in the first place.
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica You are such a great book reporter.


Todd Johnson I've been giving away copies of this book since high school, but lately I've wondered: is it really as good as I thought eight years ago? I'm glad to hear that it might be.


message 3: by Brendan (new)

Brendan My favorite sentence in this book talks about her seeing her wedding photo:

"she had permitted herself to be so painstakingly decorated before being led to the gallows. Seems so absurd. So futile.
Like polishing firewood."

I read the book six years ago and I can still remember where that sentence lands on the bottom right of the page.


Adrianne Mathiowetz That sentence terrified me.


message 5: by Brendan (new)

Brendan I read than sentence and thought, "Wait? I can be pretentious and hilarious? Then I want to be a novelist!"


Adrianne Mathiowetz Hah. Really? There are a lot of ways I'd describe that passage, but "hilarious" would be one of the last things to come to mind for me.


message 7: by Brendan (new)

Brendan I think you've just helped me come to grips with one of my biggest problems. I think everything is hilarious. I laughed out loud when I read that.


Adrianne Mathiowetz I'm beginning to think that my reaction to it reveals an unnaturally high fear of marrying the wrong person. Who needs Rorschach and Myers-Briggs when you've got fiction?


Chris little this review made me laugh out loud! it's true! it was like being dragged slowly by a potentially dying horse


Karen Wang I read this comment before reading the book. Only until after I finished it did I realize how true you've described it.
and the chronology - its both my favourite and least favourite aspect of the book. the experience wouldntve been the same.
And the whole word play? the Heart of Darkness references?
heart of darkness.
dark of heartness.
heart of dark.
dark of heart.
WHAT THE HECK IS HEARTNESS.
i loved it.
its just. sick.


message 11: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick I had a similar feeling about the chronology when I finally turned the last page. Especially since the tragedy had practically been drawn in silhouette by foreshadowing. I've come to think of it this way:

Had it been written in another way I can think of two great losses that would have occurred. 1. Small Things (the novel and things which are small) would have culminated, rather than swirled and juxtaposed. 2. The final scene would have, at best, lost it's magic; at worst it would have been a ludicrous and trite lover's climax, with Sophie Mol the tragic consequence and denouement.

I much prefer the gut-punched, heart-crushed, teeth-broken, Reader-shaped Hole in the Universe this book makes of me before offering up this last shred of calm. In some ways it seems like the only way to truly partake in the majesty of the Small Things.


Adrianne Mathiowetz I love this line from you: "I much prefer the gut-punched, heart-crushed, teeth-broken, Reader-shaped Hole in the Universe this book makes of me."


message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Fisher Loved the review. Totally haven't read this book. I wanted to comment because I've wrote reviews on a couple of books lately that I feel have received excessive backlash over the way they were written and the book not delivering as expected.

"Lush, gorgeous prose: reading The God of Small Things is like having your arms and legs tied to a slowly moving, possibly dying horse, and being dragged face-down through the jungle. I mean, like that, only nice."

That is the key! So many people pick up a book because they were told it was good and about such and such. A synopsis or summary is the worst thing to be reading about some books (like Never Let Me Go, which I just finished). Some books cannot be summed up in 5 sentences and those sentences tend to be plot driven whereas some novels are not about plot at all. Surely this book has a plot, but it sounds like, if I were to read it for that particular purpose, I would be bored to tears. Some novels are worth reading simply for the sake of reading and thinking. Sometimes you have to be patient, go with the flow, and get increasingly irritated when the author doesn't supply the information you want but gives you everything else.


message 14: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Raymo I love your description, "...and being dragged face-down through the jungle." Exactly how I felt reading this book, and loving every minute of it.


Peter Great review!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

This is great. You hit the nail right on the head!


message 17: by Mizz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mizz Hell I felt a bit manipulated for a while, too, and I feared the ending would piss me off, but instead it made me it all come together structurally and emotionally.


James Workman Your expresses my thoughts exactly. Thank you.


message 19: by Kumari (new) - added it

Kumari very nice simile there, yourself


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