Top positive review
Brilliant, tender, honest and enchanting!
Reviewed in India on 22 July 2019
'Then I wanted to beg him to forgive me. But this would have been too great a confession; any yielding at that moment would have locked me forever in that room with him. And in a way this was exactly what I wanted.'
Giovanni's Room is a brilliant book. It has all the elements in it to be called a perfect piece of literary fiction - sublime language, complex and realistic characters,a heavy dose of tender emotions and the climactic tragedy.
This lyrical work is a tumultuous study of humans caught in the miasma of shame, lust, guilt and desire. The protagonist is trapped in what is society's conception of correctness. The city of Paris, the bar houses, the streets and 'Giovanni's room' mimic this congestion. It's breathtaking how the writer has juxtaposed the abstract and the physical.
Everything about this book is hauntingly mesmerising and tenderly moving. It is a remarkable gay novel, but it's not just a gay novel. It's about everyone and for everyone.
Please read this, I insist you.
What I didn't like was the not so subtle misogyny in the book which is definitely unsettling not so much because it is anti women which, well, it is, but more because it creates a sinister relationship between homosexuality and misogyny. It can be misleading and harmful in ways more than one. I can't say if the author intended that but the last thing one expects to find in gay literature is the usual streaks of homophobia laced with comfortable ignorance and insensitivity.
But I can't change my stand on how compelling this book is. It's easily one of the best books I have read, a 5 🌟 book if not for the not-so-slightly bugging thing about women and gays, so I give it 4 🌟
Here, have a look at this bewichingly beautiful paragraph -
"I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea, time flowed past indifferently above us, hours and days had no meaning. In the beginning our life held a joy and amazement which was newborn every day. Beneath the joy, of course, was anguish and beneath the amazement was fear; but they did not work themselves to the beginning until our high beginning was aloes on our tongues. By then anguish and fear had become the surface on which we slipped and slid, losing balance, dignity, and pride."
Have I convinced you enough?