Lara's Reviews > Shantaram

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
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's review
Aug 25, 08

bookshelves: memoir, i-give-up
Read in August, 2008

I loved, loved the first part of this book. The author's description of arriving in Mumbai is so similar to my experience - the sites and smells, staying in Colaba, the restaurants visited - it really brought back my trip to a city I loved.

However, I've had to put this one down for a bit of a break. I just have the feeling Gregory David Roberts is pretty far up his own ass and I'm not sure I'm buying what he's selling.

What's making it hard to just sit back and enjoy this book is Robert's description of specific experiences - usually ones outside the usual North American experience (staying in a remote village, the Standing Babas, living in a slum, etc.) seem a bit far fetched to me. He goes to the village and Ack! Flood! While seeing the Babas - Eeek! Knife attack! And his first day in the slum? Fire! Fire! Fire!

To be sure, there are a lot of stories and cultural experiences to be had in another country, particularly in one like India. I'm just not sure if I buy that Roberts personally experienced all of them.

When I was in Agra, seeing the Taj Mahal, we were told that the towers surrounding the Taj used to be open to the public, but that they became a popular spot for love sick suicides, and are now closed. I have a feeling that if Roberts heard this story, he would have been standing at the foot of the tower when a lovelorn jumper took his last leap -- and would have an even barfier description for it than "a lovelorn jumper took his last leap"...

I don't know why I'm having trouble with this book because the stories are interesting. Maybe if I didn't feel like Roberts was trying to convince me that this is TOTALLY COMPLETELY TRUE YOU GUYS as opposed to a more fictionalized memoir, maybe I could, but for now it's back on the shelf.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Anshul Porwal You do realize that Roberts himself said that this book is NOT his autobiograhpy, but rather a largely fictionalized version of his own experiences in India, don't you?

Karen LOL!

message 3: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Roberts said that the characters and narrative structure were fictionalized, but *all* of the events were taken from his own life. So yeah I think the criticism about his being "pretty far up his own ass" holds. I still liked the book though ;)

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