Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book Review "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth. :)

I am reading this book by Vikram Seth, it is called “An Equal Music”.
It is a story about a musician Michael , who plays in a quartet. They play Bach, Schubart, Mozart and the likes.
He runs away from Vienna, betraying his Teacher and his Love Julia, who is a fellow student and a great musician .He lives a fugitive life in London. Years later he meets his ex-girlfriend, now married with a son in London and he realizes that he had never fallen out of Love. They get reacquainted and a few days later he discovers that she has gone stone deaf. All this while she has been reading his lips.

I finished up the story in the first paragraph because the story is nothing. The book is a very long poem. His words sing, fall in love, and get hurt and betrayed. If all those feelings could speak, they could have spoken in the exact words that he writes. It is really intriguing to know that someone can take total charge of your mind as you read the book. He doesn’t waste time on long descriptions, but you get the characters completely in the first few pages.

There are certain things that we are not taught as children, which we learn only from the situations we go through. Like the gray between the black and the white. When we don’t know if we are wrong or the other is. The place in our hearts that is taken up or abandoned by the whim of a whimsical musician or a person with a lot more things to do with his life. The turns that make us wonder why we came this far if it was not meant any further and the understanding that suddenly springs up in our hearts in between fits of anger. It takes us a while to adjust to the grays of life and then somehow the blacks and the whites seem to fade and we see the grayness of every black and white situation. We learn to understand. We learn to take care of ourselves despite our association with people who might not stay with us, and we learn to let go even before we hold on to someone. I think this is what is written best in this book.

They reunite and they never bother if it is adultery, rather, she never thinks of it like that. She takes his leaving her, her going deaf and then her leading two lives; one with him and the other with her legitimate family with silence. The chapters become silent when they talk about her. The words become silent and when you read about her, your heart is also filled with the same pristine silence. Everything about her is like the void between two breaths. I like the easy abandon that he attributes to her character. When she goes away easily from his flat, and never tells him when he will see her again. She comes back when she feels like but every time she does, he is thrown into this maddening euphoria.
When he describes music, his words give us everything except the actual music. They describe every little detail and make us one with the audience. When he writes about the applause, we applaud with it! He can write silence and sound alike and I really liked the way he paces his book. It is never too slow or never too furious. It is just right.

It is set in London, so it feels as cold, as damp and sometimes surprisingly refreshing like the London weather. You go through all the moods that you are capable of being in reading this book. It is an absolute treat!


jay said...

thanks for the review. i think i will give a try. :)

shirish said...

Many things in life are not tought to us.We experience them.The greys,blacks and whites are etenal parts of our life.We only have to add colours. Books take you to somebody else's experinces.These enrich us,whethar you call them bad or good they enrich you.

Nikhil K said...

Hi. Ajay Joshi showed me your blog and I like it.
A long poem in prose is exactly what I thought of Equal Music too, when i first read it , a battered edition in the British Library in Pune. It happened to me, reading aloud the sentences and noticing the words rolling over your tongue. One more similar book is the English Patient. Keep blogging.