Shades Of Words

Book Review : Santiago and the drinking party

2 Comments

This is an odd little book. It doesn’t have a plot, or a theme. Stuff happens. Why or to what end doesn’t seem to matter.

The story starts at an unusual place, deep in the Amazon, where Daniel, our narrator, is backpacking as a student. During a dangerous, almost fatal river crossing he meets Santiago. Santiago is the resident philosopher –who earns his living feeding off the superstition of the tribes. His daughter, Angelina makes quite an impression of Daniel. Then they have sex. And then Daniel runs for it. Well we don’t know why exactly, but Daniel decides that he has had enough of the Amazonian exoticness and must head back to US of A.

Years pass, presumably. We don’t know for sure. Daniel is back in the Amazon, riding a bus back into its depths, reaching the little town which he visited many years ago. Why is he going back? What is he looking for? What is he running away from? Again, we don’t know.

The story or whatever this is really starts from there. Daniel is welcomed into the dysfunctional social circle of Santiago’s thinking and drinking club. It is exactly what it sounds – Santiago and few men get together in the Cantina, drink beer and have existential discussions. Once in a while they make you think, but mostly they are just the ramblings of drunken men.

Angelina has now become the bonafide village hottie – who freelances as an actress, guide, scientist – anything that will get her out of this little shit -hole. She is of course desired by many men and is often the cause of petty fights.

Several characters are introduced but none are really etched out. Who are these people? What do they do all day? What do they live on? How do they earn their wages? We don’t know. References are made to tourist groups and expeditions but how central are they to the economy to the village is again not clear.

There is something almost mythical about the world that Clay Morgan creates. There are pink dolphins, blue butterflies, green dense undergrowth, clear waterfalls and naked dancing tourists. There is a man that appears in the middle of the river island, a flood that brings an epidemic of toads, a brain fever that makes people dizzy with happiness. And the endless disappearing of people.

The most macabre of all is the endless disappearing of people. Hector, the village con artist and sociopath keeps disappearing into the forest with tourists and no one knows what ever becomes of them

So should you read this book? Oh, I don’t know – it’s quirky, fun and interesting. The language is beautiful. Towards the end it’s just bizarre. Morgan tries to fill the last 100 pages with as much weirdness as possible. What is an already an aimless tale becomes even more derailed. At the end you are left with a sense of wasted time.

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Author: Vipula

Before talking about who we are, we’d like to tell you a bit about how and why Shades of Words came into being. It all started with the idea of “A place where we could share with likeminded people about things we enjoy. From books to music to movies to travel; Shades of Words was to be a place about the best of our experiences” We thought about why should anyone read us? The answer was that whatever we review would be a mix of our experience of the thing along with interesting and useful information about it. So in case you are reading us regularly or even checking us out once in a while then we have succeeded in our efforts someway somewhere. Who are we? Known as Kapil Sood and Vipula Gupta, we thought of Shades of Words on one fine Sunday afternoon. Tired of writing interesting RFP’s and project documentation; we decided to give this a shot. Yes! We work in Indian IT industry. Cupid struck us while were innocently slogging together on the highly intricate job of formatting and beautifying documents! And since then, we have been working together to establish Shades of Words as a place that we can claim as ours. (Because buying a house is still years away!) What else? Kapil also writes some blogs which you can read here and here.

2 thoughts on “Book Review : Santiago and the drinking party

  1. This is the hardest sort of book to review and you do a really good job! I’m still not sure whether it will appeal to me or not, it sounds a bit like a grown up version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making which is also oddness personified and I wafted in and out of.

    • Thanks for the comment. I find it frustrating when I cant make up my mind about a book – because I feel that I have lost time. The title of “The Girl…” is so odd in itself. It does sound like a children’s book.

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