Saturday, December 01, 2012

Finally, Casual Vacancy

Reading JK Rowling's latest novel, that book that is her follow up to the Harry Potter series, is a test of patience. I got this sense when, after the first few pages, I noted that JK is on a roll introducing one character after another after another. That's about seven families or 30 characters. (Incidentally, I am very poor with names: I actually had to print out a character guide provided for by The Telegraph.) What's amazing is that I got to truly know all of them. She described everything in perfect detail––JK took her sweet time in painting a picture of their looks, clothes, houses, furniture, mannerisms; the neighborhood and its streets, its local politics, the town square, its history––so much so that I couldn't wait for her to hurry up.
I had a deadline to finish: I needed to finish the book by the end of November. I started reading it mid-October. As of two weeks ago, I haven't even made it past the halfway mark. I began complaining to friends. I flip pages after pages with nothing keeping me excited. I kept asking, "What's the point?" and JK seemed to have answered back by ignoring my question completely, with her nose turned up as she filled the pages with even more ultra descriptive narrative to upbraid me for my impatience. It was only when I relaxed and immersed myself in the moment did I start to truly enjoy the book. It would take the last 100 pages before I'd feel rewarded.
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I've always wondered how much pressure there is to raising children. A child's character is as certain as the number of alternative realities and choices out there. Casual Vacancy gave me time for introspection as I read about parents whose choices bore monumental effects on a child's life, and eventually, to a community (i.e., what does that child end up contributing to society; how am I keeping my parents' values alive?) I realized JK wove a tapestry of families and their stories to show exactly how (as much as clichΓ© it sounds) we're all bounded together: your choices affect my life.

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