Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

I seem to have some sort of affinity with this book. It "haunted" me during my English Prelims, which made me, even through the exam period, go to the library to see if I could find it. When I finally found it (and even if the search took ten minutes, the ride back was fsst! as Huck would say) and started reading, I realised that an even earlier passage appeared in my secondary school unseen.

Is it that good? I'm not sure, but this what I know. The title of the book is taken from The Wasteland from T.S Eliot, and happily, it has my favourite phrase "April is the cruelest month". And that's about it.

Reading the book was confusing. The characters are all unlikeable (and well, the black people were not well characterised for me to feel anything towards them). Dick was, well, he's pathetic, to put it kindly. Mary is also pathetic, and she manages to destroy whatever sympathy I might have for her by being so racist (I don't like Dick, so I'm not going to bother about him). The plot of the book is confusing too. After reading this book, I kept wondering, Moses hates Mary, ok, but were they having an affair?

Throughout the whole book, I haven't seen a nice person, except maybe the English guy who appeared in the first and last chapters, and got so discouraged he had to leave. I wonder if that's a subtle message that in order for colonial powers to stay in power, they cannot be the least bit kind (the guy's no saint, but he's the best of the lot).

I suppose being Chinese, and having suffered from stereotyping, I can very easily disapprove of what they do. But at the same time, I do, unfortunately, sometimes practice reverse stereotyping. I wonder, is it so natural that we want to find a way to look down on others? If you look at history, there's never been a time (except with the early Church, before it became a state religion and opportunists and others came in), where people have lived in peace, equality with no judgement. And sadly, that day will probably never come until the last judgement.

Still, for a book that I wouldn't normally touch, I'm pleasantly surprised by it(:

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