Mass of Mass Markets

The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyI’m drawn to tragic tales. Ultimate sacrifices. Unhappy endings. Take a look at my Top Ten and you’ll see some prime examples. Even so, I’m struggling with The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Roy is a sensational writer, and the book is exquisitely crafted and beautifully tragic. I’m not struggling to get through it; I’m struggling against it. The God of Small Things doesn’t have “weight” as much as it has “mass” or “density.” Not a density in terms of language, but a density in terms of pull. I feel something similar to gravity working on me when I open the book. The story is a Law of Nature, irresistable and unavoidable. The downward pull is so strong that I’ve been forced to reach out for a buoy in the form of a mass market paperback. I took advantage of a recent trip to the library with my kids and checked out Exile, the fourth book in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series (the library didn’t have the first three). I’m drawn to the darker elements of Star Wars, too (my favorite episode has always been Empire Strikes Back), but alternating between the two books is like escaping from a black hole back into open space. It’s a relief. I find that I can enjoy both books better this way. The Star Wars book alone wouldn’t be satisfying, but taking The God of Small Things straight, like a pound of solid dark chocolate, is too rich. Mass market paperbacks are the knusperkeks of the indulgent reader’s fare!

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