Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Book Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga 
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the past, I’ve ploughed at a snail’s pace through Man Booker Prize winning novels or abandoned them altogether. Thus, when a friend lent me their copy of the 2008 winning novel The White Tiger, I opened it without much optimism but, to my amazement, found myself hooked from the first page.

The story is set in India, and takes place over a period of one week (the same length of time I took to read the book!). It opens with the main character, Balram, writing the start of an “autobiographical” letter to His Excellency Wen Jiabao from China, who is due to visit India the following week.

What follows is an extraordinary tale of a rather disreputable character, who calls himself an entrepreneur and considers he’s one of India’s success stories. Born into a poor family and taken out of school early, Balram is determined to better himself and rise through the social ranks, by means most foul if necessary. His self-justification for his  ruthless actions is beyond the pale, but I found myself intrigued by him and half-wanting him to succeed, while all the time thinking, No, he can’t be planning that – No, this cannot be about to happen – No, he really has done this horrendous thing.

The novel is an eye-opener, and one that has left me with a more complete picture of India. As David Mattin wrote in his review in the Independent on Sunday, “Adiva sets out to show us a part of [India] that we hear about infrequently; its underbelly”. It is a story about the haves and the have-nots, and one man who talks himself into the coveted job of a driver for a rich man and his wife, learns fast through listening hard and manipulating circumstances in his favour, and, in doing so, decides his employers are undeserving of their privilege and he the more deserving.

The writing is fast-paced, seamless, succinct, and yet richly descriptive. The paragraphs are short, so there is lots of white space (which, in my experience, is unusual for a literary novel). I loved the dialogue, as well as Balram’s inner dialogue. He has to be one of the most intriguing anti-hero I’ve come across in a novel in a long time. I really disliked him as a person, but found myself understanding where he was coming from and wondering if he’d succeed in his quest or end up incarcerated in prison for life.

A highly recommended read.

Monday Morning #Haiku 190 — Daphne

February walk
A winter treat breaks the grey
Daphne clothed in pink

Monday Morning Haiku #189 — Full Moon

Three after midnight,
light emitting diode moon
dazzles sleepyhead!

The Pantser’s Antipenultimate Panic #Novel Writing

You would have thought by now I’d have learned the pitfalls that go with being a seat-of-your pants writer. Yes, it’s exciting. Yes, it’s living dangerously. And yes, every time I reach the final third of my novel I come unstuck.

This time it’s worse than usual. Instead of writing at my usual steady pace that sees a first draft completed in six to nine months, I slammed out 50,000 words in one month during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then only had time to write 6,000 words in December, so I literally lost the plot.

Yesterday, I wrote three pages of dialogue between two people that did little to advance the plot. I may or may not have picked up on some threads earlier in the novel, but mostly I was waffling in the dark.

On reflection, the cause of this waffling is clear: that I can’t remember what I said earlier in the novel, or what clues I laid down. When a writer reaches the stage of to-ing and fro-ing every few sentences via the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl][F], it’s akin to playing yo-yo and hoping the string doesn’t snap.

The moment of reckoning has arrived. I cannot proceed in a southerly direction, when I keep on having to retrace my steps north. If I carry on like that, I will end up tearing out my hair and casting my novel into the trash bin. But I neither want to tear out my hair nor cast my novel in the trash bin, as I’m rather fond of both items.

Thus, my only option is to stop writing and return to “Go”, even if go is situated at the North Pole. This does not involve any kind of rewrite or detailed proofreading, but a straight read through to remind me what I have written in the first two-thirds of my novel. As I’m doing this, I will write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis to save me having to do so at the end.

What am I looking for?

  • Clues
  • Revelations
  • Contradictions
  • Pacing/waffle
  • Direction
  • The story arc

And to end on a positive, what do I love the most about the novel that makes it worth saving?

  • The characters
  • The wry humour
  • The quirkiness
  • The story’s overall premise
  • The setting
  • The novel’s title

See you all when I get back from the North Pole. Only joking 😉

Monday Morning #Haiku 188 — Bud

One daffodil bud
Solitary winter scout
Is it safe to bloom?

Monday Morning #Haiku 187 & #Tanka 36 — Cliffs

Limpet clamped to rock
Centre of its universe
Cliffs irrelevant

Humans dice with death;
rocks only fall on others
’til they fall on you.
Eroded by wind and waves,
cliffs house skeletons galore.

Friday Fictioneers — Memory Stoked

The writing of my latest tome is taking longer than I expected, thus my urge to take a breather and take part in this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge. Many thanks to Sandra Crook for the photo prompt and to our dynamo of a host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

My apologies for posting yet another excerpt from my novel Counting Magpies (last seen disappearing through a black hole into another universe, otherwise known as the publisher’s submissions backlog!).

Genre: Speculative fiction
Word Count: 100

~MEMORY STOKED~

Janice has never lived in a city akin to Warsaw, or witnessed multitudinous fire-gutted buildings, some with bodies inside. I trudge after her, weighted by a memory.

When I was seven years old the Mafia burnt down my favourite ice-cream parlour—some kind of turf war—with my friend, her older sister, father, and grandmother inside. Afterwards, I’d obsessed over visions of gallons of ice-cream melting into a rainbow stream that ran all the way out the door and down the road to forever, not to hell but to paradise. This fantasy was better than imagining the family incinerated alive.

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To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

 

Monday Morning #Haiku 186 — Mulch

Woodland winter damp
That aroma of leaf mulch
Rich nature unraked

Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

However difficult the subject, Jodi Picoult always delivers big-time. She has an incredible capacity to show all sides of the story from the different viewpoints of characters trapped in ethical dilemmas. She never moralises, or allows even an ounce of author intrusion. Instead, she takes the reader right into the heads and hearts of those characters who are telling the story.

Nineteen Minutes is about a sensitive boy who has to suffer years of bullying, which begins the day he starts nursery school and continues through the years until, at the age of 17, he snaps and goes on a shooting spree in his high school. His mother is a midwife who brings babies into this world and now her son has become a murderer. She never realised that he had a problem, so you can imagine where that takes her on the self-blame front.

Basically, this a story about a situation that is every parent’s idea of a nightmare. Told from the third person viewpoints of the main players, while moving backwards and forwards between different time strands, the author skilfully builds up detailed psychological and social profiles of these characters, plus taking the reader through the gathering of evidence for the court case that follows the shooting.

This is a long novel (nearly 600 pages), but well worth the read, albeit a galling one. It made me think deeply about contemporary society and the “in-crowd” versus those it excludes. It also made me glad that I’m the age I am and not having to go through school now, especially with the added pressure of social networking.

I found it very hard to put this novel down, but it left me exhausted afterwards and unable to settle to reading any other work of fiction straight after.

View all my reviews

​Introverts Hate Shallow Socializing, Not People.

I love this post by Emmanuel Rockan. a fellow introvert. He has made me very happy today. It is so good to hear someone describe how I feel about life, better than I can describe it myself 🙂

Life lessons

There is a big difference between being lonely and being an introvert.

There was this girl back in college who used to think that I was unhappy or lonely just because I was always in my house.


What she didn’t know is I actually enjoyed staying in my house alone.

Up to this very moment the only life that I’ve ever wished for is having a good house with a rooftop where I can enjoy watching THE MILKY WAY(starts,moon and all in space) at night.

Fast internet, snacks/food of my choice, a luxury car and a chopper for roadtrips when I feel like it.


And a huge library filled with books.

That is heaven to me and I have achieved ½ of that dream life of mine.

Every time I leave the house the more I appreciate being in my house.

There’s a lot of drama outside.

Fake friends, thieves…

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