Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pig In Mud

I have as little knowledge of cricket as I do of pig slaughtering - the themes that two books I am reading now open with. The former is The Match by Romesh Guneskera and the later is The Konkans by Tony D'Souza. Guneskera is overwhelming me with minutiae of locale and theme to the point I am losing sight of his story. The characters are disappearing on me like random people do in crowded bazaars. I am not sure which one I am supposed to keep in sight so I get to the end. He has my poor head spinning already and I'm likley to drop out mid-book.

D'Souza starts with this fantastic account about two men, the narrators uncles who arrive in Chicago from Konkan in India and decide they need to slaughter a pig to celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier the family's patron saint. The characters are sketched in bold colors as the story unfolds at a bracing pace. The smell of dukrajemas (a Konkani pork curry) and all too frequent flash backs to Chikmaglur do not distract or parochialize. Instead they form an authentic backdrop in which D'Souza spins his yarn masterfully.

When it comes to using exotic locales in storytelling there are tinkers like Guneskera and others and the real mechanics like D'Souza who know to use it a tell a story that transcends its setting. I am struggling for the right cricketing idiom for Guneskera’s book but it would be along the lines of leaving a movie at intermission to find something else to do. For anyone who likes being told a good story D’Souza’s will make them as happy as a pig in mud.

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