Monday, October 28, 2013

The Casual Vacancy


Book Review

Barry Fairbrother dies giving rise to a vacancy in the Parish council.  There are many aspirants for the vacant post.  J K Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy, is partly about the struggles of the aspirants to materialise their dream.  The novel is more about such social issues as juvenile aberration, pornography, drug addiction, and child abuse. 

The novel presents a terribly bleak and partly frivolous world.  Linguistic obscenity hangs heavily on the reader’s mind as he/she turns pages hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel.  But all that you will get is more and more darkness.  Rowling is writing about a society that shrugs at revelations of evil.  A character in the novel, the adolescent Stuart “Fats” Wall, tries to defeat his father in the Parish council election by hacking into the council’s website and posting a report that his father was a thief, only to realise that “the world, it seemed, had merely shrugged.  Evil is a natural concomitant of existence in such a world.  

Sons and daughters fighting their parents, adults deceiving their friends, parents fighting their children... there’s a whole lot of fighting throughout the novel.  There’s fornication and adultery.  There’s lust of all hues. 

The adolescent “Fats” may be taken as the metaphorical protagonist of the novel.  Apparently he is the only character who is in search of something beyond the given world.  He “had discovered,” says the novel, that other people “were mired in embarrassment and pretence, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted.  Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labelled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”

Fats is on a quest “to be who you really were, even if that person was cruel or dangerous, particularly if cruel and dangerous” [emphasis in original]. 

The novel presents a lot of darkness.  Superficiality and resignation to the status quo.  Varieties of perversions.  The innocent child dies in this world...


PS.  I bought this book tempted by a 70% discount offered by an online seller.


20 comments:

  1. Being a fan of Harry Potter I picked this book up from my Library and to be honest, left it mid way.. somehow she couldnt hold my attention through this one.

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    1. I was no fan of Harry Potter books though I found the movies interesting. I didn't enjoy reading this book. I would have enjoyed it if it had more passages like the ones I have quoted.

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  2. Should the book be given a chance as a timepass read during train journey?

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    1. I wouldn't recommend it for a train journey, Aram.

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  3. Does not look that interesting.

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  4. Where did you get the 70% discount? I want to see some other books there.

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    1. IndiaPlaza gives that discount even now. See the following link:
      http://www.indiaplaza.com/searchproducts.aspx?sn=books&q=casual%20vacancy&dn=books
      If you can't access, just log in to indiaplaza.com and search for Casual Vacancy.

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  5. Thank you for the warning sir, I was about to pick this up. I couldn't read the Harry Potter series but watched all the movies. I was tempted as people keep saying she is great, now I know that my decision to leave behind this one is correct.

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    1. You are welcome, Athena. But it's my judgment, however. There have been reviewers who think Rowling is great even in this work.

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  6. i downloaded the e-book version but was so disappointed. i quit it after reading the first few chapters. boring book..

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    1. It appears there are more people who gave up half way through this novel. I was tempted to do the same. But since I didn't have any other book to read, I ploughed on :)

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  7. I too was among the band of fools who took this up based solely on the authors skill which she portrayed all along the caricature of harry Potter series. I must have not been surprised when the book fell flat. I may very well be biased in the response as it is unjust to see thi sas an extension of the creative genius of Harry Potter series.

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    1. Rowling thinks this is one of her best works. Maybe it has some special meaning for her.

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  8. Sir why don't you switch to kindle. You'll get most books for free.

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    1. I don't enjoy reading from electronic screens, Sid. I love books, the very feel of paper.

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  9. Great books, even I like to read from paper books not from kindle, well good blog post.

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  10. I'm not going to pick this one up now. Thanks for the heads up!!

    Niyati

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  11. Will steer clear away from it... Your review has made it too clear to me .Thanks !

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