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Old 2nd Apr 2008, 23:23   #11
Beth
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

I'm waiting for the book to arrive. Stay away from sellers named HeavyTail! I loved The English Patient and read it before seeing the film. Minghella's film is the most faithful adaptation imaginable. Looking forward to this.
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Old 2nd Apr 2008, 23:35   #12
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyngbourne View Post
Echoing what Ang said, bill. The threads stay open like any other, and any contribution made at any point can reinvigorate discussion, so all contributions are welcome as and when they're ready. I'll possibly put something of my impressions down tomorrow. I think I have the autobiographical Ondaatje book (is that the Coming Through Slaughter one or the one about Lions?) on a shelf, still to be read. Perhaps it will make good reading accompaniment for this book.
Coming Through Slaughter is a novel, based on fact, about the American jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden. His autobiography is Running in the Family, and the "Lions" one is In the Skin of the Lion, which, I've gathered, is a novel that is loosely connected to The English Patient.
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Old 3rd Apr 2008, 8:58   #13
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Still not very far along, but I'm finding the writing ever so slightly annoying. Too much explanation from the author. Phrases like:

She could shut down too.

and Lalitha's granddaughter saying to Anil: "Then you don't have any connection, do you?"

Yikes, that's an awkward way to get the point across to the reader. People who have just met and spoken only a few sentences do not say that kind of thing to each other.
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Old 3rd Apr 2008, 9:05   #14
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Oh, I dunno - I've come across people who put things like that very bluntly. You think you're making easy conversation about something, and they flatly contradict you on something you feel safe on. I've known two people like that as friends and they're quite scary in conversation
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Old 3rd Apr 2008, 9:20   #15
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Then it is Running in the Family that I have, bill.

And I agree with those who enjoy the film of The English Patient: tremendous.

However, back to Anil's Ghost...

For me, this book was too episodic and uninvolving. We seemed to be exploring the dark political background of Sri Lanka by entering through the experience of Anil uncovering the origins of the recently murdered man, with lots of meaty stuff besides (her decision to take a boy's name, her love life, her working relationship with Sarath, whom she doesn't trust). But we kept spinning off into side-stories that might have fascinated in themselves but were dead-ends, as far as I could see, for the momentum of the story and its cohesion. There was Palipana and his niece in the Grove of Ascetics; Sarath's brother; the doctor adbucted by the guerrillas; the little vignette (beautifully done) of the reconstruction of the Buddha statue and the symbolic painting-in of the eyes. All the extras pulled away from the central focus on Anil and the body of Sailor (and Sarath, who was my main focus of attention). And what seemed like unnecessary background noise about Anil's various love affairs. It turned into a wishy-washy amalgam of so many asides that I wasn't sure what meaning lay in any of it. The writing was good enough but there was too little direction.

It might well have been my tired brain: at this point of general exhaustion, a plot with meaning is the stuff that is what I'm after, so any pointers as to Anil's Ghost would be welcome. I just think Ondaatje got diverted telling too many tales.
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 10:49   #16
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Sorry guys and gals, but I've given up on this one. I only gave it 50 pages, but it is reminding me of Kate Mosse's Labyrinth which I really did not like at all.
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Old 13th Apr 2008, 12:37   #17
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

I'm at page 105, and although I think the book is rather good, it isn't very compelling in any way.
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Old 10th May 2008, 21:54   #18
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Default Re: Book 52: ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

I could repeat word by word what Col said – maybe except being focused on Sarath, as I found Gamini the more interesting brother.

‘Episodic’ is a very good word to describe this book. I’m baffled by the ‘architecture’ of the book – it’s hard to decide what is the core, the central thing, and what are subsidiary threads. Yes, the main focus seems to be on Anil and the body of Sailor – even the title suggests that. But even that isn’t quite clear to me, because reading the book I assumed Sailor is the ghost of the title, while near the end there is a passage:
Quote:
He [Ananda, the eye-painter] and the woman Anil would always carry the ghost of Sarath Diyasena.
There may be hidden depths in this book. Perhaps, in accordance with its subject, it was meant to resemble the archeological work and require from a reader careful examining of layer after layer? And maybe the ideal reader should find their own understanding, the way Palipana did? Well, I’m not the one.

Despite describing in detail atrocities of war, the book creates strange impression of distance and indirectness. It seems to be a story told through the medium of dead bodies and half-living people. And the line between the living and the dead is often blurred - I’m unable to find the quote, but I remember reading a sentence where dying patients were being described in the way more adequate for describing dead bodies. (I thought at the time that it’s quite typical for this book but I didn’t mark the page). Similar effect had on me the tenderness shown by Anil towards the skeleton of Sailor. I felt just a little bit uneasy about that - I don't like blurring that line.

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