Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Alchemy Of Desire

The first few pages of Tarun Tejpal's The Alchemy Of Desire, read beautifully. I stayed up late one night, mesmerized by the story that promised to unfold ever so perfectly. Tejpal's language is a delight to read. Hundred pages in, I wondered if Tejpal may have lost his way for a bit but would find it back soon. Instead, the increasing sprawl of the story and the ever expanding cast of characters leaves the reader bewildered. Tejpal had a wonderful story to tell even if he had limited it to exploring the role of Kama (lust) and Prema (love) in marriage and relationships - a narrative that is universally relevant.

The narrator and the his wife Fiza (Fizz) have a relationship that is intense and unconventional enough to stand independent of everything else that this book tries to be about. Tejpal did not have to write a novel of mythic proportions and fall short. He does an outstanding job of telling the story of a marriage and a grand passion gone sour. As a reader, I wished he had edited out everything extraneous to the main theme and given us a book I could enjoy completely and count among my favorites.

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