Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Winter Break

My recently acquired status as a full-time student, while leaving me with less “play money”, also leaves me with vacation time between semesters. Working a full-time job, you get two, maybe three weeks a year. Except I usually break those two or three weeks down into one to three day “mini vacations”, and thus I rarely got a “real vacation”. So, while having these last few weeks to essentially do what I want has been amazing, I’ve often felt just a little guilty. That my family, the people I used to work with and my beloved occasionally and sarcastically remark that, “Wow, some people have got it sooooo good”, makes me feel just a tiny bit embarrassed, I know I’ve earned this time in my life, so the embarrassment doesn’t last long. And, now after cleaning all the stuff that I just couldn’t get to during the semester: the top of the refrigerator, sorting out all my receipts from the past year, cooking more often during the week, organizing all of my books and papers from classes, pulling out beds to vacuum those hard to reach spots, ceiling fans, etc., I now find that the closer it comes to the beginning of the next semester, I get a little…bored. “Embrace the boredom”! I tell myself. It won’t be long before I will be frantically trying to finish a reading assignment, or staying up until 3 a.m. to complete a research paper that I’ve know about for two months.

I didn’t think I’d have much time for “fun” reading. That is, reading that has not been assigned by an over zealous professor who thinks that their class is the only one you have. But, actually it was one of those professors who organized a book club gathering at her house for the holiday. After reading six novels in her class this past semester, she’d thought it’d be fun to read one more! And, you know what? It was. The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai is a challenging, yet approachable exploration of the genetic and collected consciousness of a colonial legacy. And, though it is a story which takes place in a village at the feet of the Himalayas, I find as I do in all Postcolonial literature, that the legacy is the same as that of African Americans. Our “double-consciousness” is equivalent to the thread of hybridity common in the literature of colonized people. The mark of the colonialist is an indelible one which has left us all fragmented; even they themselves. Desai’s writing is a thoroughly ambitious continuation of the efforts of Indian literature to claim and reclaim her own histories. Her experimentation with form inside the novel is mildly impressive. And, while it occasionally seems wordy and ostentatious; it is still a beautiful, youthful and clever addition to the annals which include her mother, Anita Desai, V.S. Naipaul and Salaman Rushdie.
Now, let's see if I can squeeze in one more book by next Monday...

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