If you have a toothache, you can take a painkiller. But if you have a bad book, you’re done for. It gnaws you from inside till you want to scream. And no matter what you do, you cannot get rid of it.
Unless you read a worse book, of course!
Well, the source of my pain is Manju Kapur’s A Married Woman. And I haven’t even finished it yet. The only reason I am soldiering on is that it makes me feel good about myself and my writing!
Reading the blurb, you’d imagine the story is mainly about a homosexual relationship between two women—one of the them the focus of the story, a “respectable” married women, mother of two. Apparently, it is a “beautifully honest and seductive story of love, set at a time of political and religious upheaval”. In truth, the book plumbs the depths of mediocrity. It is a badly executed narrative of what (so far in 200-odd pages) seems to be a pretty pointless life.
A gripping plot and a lucid narrative are perhaps the two most important ingredients of any decent book. A Married Woman has neither. A good writer can actually carry you through a bad plot, and I wish I could say that was the case here. Also, I do believe that books should make you feel. They should stir your emotions, touch you, make you laugh—oh, all right, even cry. But not cry out of frustration, or because it might hurt less to pull out your nails one by one.
Moral of the story: Next time believe a bookseller when he tells you that the book you’re buying is not worth it!