Monday, December 12, 2016

Verghese, Abraham (Cutting for Stone)

Well, I finally got to the end of this massive tome, and you know what? It was actually worth it.

Some caveats, though. It could have been hacked down by at least a quarter of its length and missed nothing. Cases in point: the motorcycle? completely unnecessary; Ghosh's prolonged internment? shorten that; Hema and Ghosh's strange courtship? yawn-inducing. You'll see that most of my complaints are about the first half of the book. I get that Verghese lived this trajectory himself, but truthfully, it only got interesting when his main character comes to America (if that's a spoiler, you're not paying close enough attention). On the face of it, that looks nationalistic, but this is where the book turns both funny and intriguing. He learns things! That aren't about growing up or insurgency or hospitals put together with spare parts (okay, at least some of those are also about his internship in the U.S.).

Then again, you would not have been able to bill this romantic-medical-wayfarer drama as sweeping (so much like Gone with the Wind, only not at all). My own history with it feels that way as well. Picking up the e-book at least 5 times to set it back down again, and finally, with a feeling of failure in myself, grabbing the audio-book, managing to not drive off the road in boredom for the first half, and then finally seeking every opportunity to listen while the tale spun itself to its end.

So, I recommend it and I worry about recommending it. You can actually pick it up and put it back down again. Just don't borrow it, because you most certainly won't get it back to the library in time.

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