Thursday, October 07, 2004

Rohinton Mistry - Swimming Lessons

I would love to write a collection of short stories like this where there isn't a thread running through the whole thing, but there are recurring characters that kind of cement the whole work from beginning to end.

He drops names and refers to past and future stories in a way that doesn't break the narrative of the current story even if you haven't met the character yet. The stories by and large could stand on their own but are much stronger for being put together.

The book takes place in the housing project in Bombay, India called Firozsha Baag. The characters live in different apartments there and the sons and daughters either leave or stay as the years go by.

The character of Kersi seems to be very close to the author, allowing him to touch on autobiographical themes. Kersi begins the book as a young boy in India and ends the book as a young man in Canada waiting for his published book to arrive by mail.

A very clever book, but not so clever that it seems contrived. I was steeped in the world of Firozsha Baag. I believed in the crumbling plaster walls covered with old calendar's from soap advertisements. I could smell the rotting fruit and the drips from the plumbing and I was fairly certain I could hear cockroaches eating the papers underneath my bed.

I want to create a world like this. When I grow up I would love to be Rohinton Mistry.