Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Four years later

(Published in Business Standard on August 23, 2014)

I recently reviewed a four-year-old book, on the grounds that I only just got around to reading it. These grounds might have a light whiff of wtf, but at the time four years didn’t seem like a big deal, though when I thought about it later I realised that it’s the entire lifespan of two of my nieces. In four years I would have been late for, like, their lives. However, the editor of the publication didn’t seem to mind, my lords and ladies, and I certainly didn’t, so then I just decided to go wild and do other things I’m four years late doing.

First, I stopped eating almost entirely, my lords and ladies. That was the easiest way to not have to take bathroom breaks. I shut off my phone, drew the blinds, and ignored the doorbell. Since it seemed as if I was either not home or dead, people went away. I’m going to figure out which of them thought I was dead, and unfriend them from Facebook.

I also gave up a number of forms of washing, my lords and ladies, and of exercise. I did nothing, in fact, for four straight days, except watch Game of Thrones, seasons one through four, one season a day. I’m not sure that I spoke to any real human beings in that time, which is probably a good thing. If I had, I probably would have addressed them as ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’ and then tried to stab them.

GoT is fantasy—adult fantasy (think fornication and murder, but in a good way). I don’t know at what point it began to seem perfectly normal to me to worry about whether the dragons were getting enough to eat, or to decide that the incestuous Lannister twins actually make a nice couple, or that maybe I too can find love with an irresistibly charming blond dwarf with an alcohol problem.

For years—four years—I couldn’t understand why people kept going on about Game of Thrones. Stupid name suggesting annoying boys playing with annoying toys. What was everyone on about? Well, as they say in book reviewing circles, better four years late than never. Without giving away anything—though if you’re anal about it, skip the next couple of paragraphs—let me summarise the plotline of Game of Thrones: Everybody dies. Everybody. You think I’m joking? I’m not joking. You think, here’s a fantastic character, getting so much stage time, so central to the story, so clearly the main protagonist, no way would they invest so much in someone and then bump them off without a by your leave. Right? Gird your loins, my lords and ladies. Everybody keels over, and I mean everybody, usually in a scene straight out of some vicious ISIS-style nightmare, except that the person with the knife is likely to be your friend. It makes you question the whole notion of friendship very closely, like those friends who went away when they thought you were dead.

All I can say is, it’s my own loss for being so late. I haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s books yet, though I will, but I can tell you that HBO’s version of Game of Thrones is a riveting, amazingly accomplished piece of work. It takes a masterful touch to be able to present and round out characters so quickly and engagingly before tearing their throats out. If you haven’t seen it yet I encourage you to race out and get it—but get all four seasons at once, because once you start, you won’t want to stop.

If nothing else, my lords and ladies, it’s a great way to prune your Facebook friends list.

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