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Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found Hardcover – September 21, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
It is not written as a typical travel book. The format is to take major aspects and dominant personalities of the city and give them each a detailed, richly woven chapter. You'll learn about the quirks and numerous pitfalls of Bombay housing and how the Renter's Act has made everything much much worse. You'll meet the head politician who seems to view Bombay as his personal fiefdom. You'll meet an amazing police detective who is unique on the police force in that he is the only one who won't take bribes, and you'll even sit in on a number of torture sessions of criminals. You'll meet a whole lot of people who kill people for hire, as well as members on police force who kill criminals because the courts didn't do their jobs of prosecuting them (that reality was drop jaw amazing). You'll meet some of the top women in the Bombay beer bar/sex scene, as well as an engineer who gave up a promising career to become a poet living on the Bombay footpaths. The list goes on.
As I read this book, I was amazed at the people that Metha got to agree to give him a good chunk of their time, allowing him to develop a vivid flesh and blood portrait. To top it off, he is an amazingly good writer, who has a great sense of humor (I guffawed out loud several times as I read this book) while casting an unblinking eye on filth and corruption so deep that you feel like you're going to choke on it.
Maximum City is truly a fascinating book to read. Anyone who is interested in either India or the phenomenon of the modern city can't help but love this book.
0. Context setting: I lived in Bombay for 6 years, hope to never live there again, but am fascinated by it, and can't read enough about it. I wasn't directly exposed to either the underbelly or the glamour of Bombay, but was definitely aware of it - something you can never avoid if you live there. My perspective is thus much more middle-class, which I think would be the broadest perspective on Bombay.
1. Bombay is a city begging to be written about, and despite the almost sudden rise in interest in writing about this city, there are still only a few one can really read, so Suketu's attempt is a welcome addition.
2. Suketa's heart in the right place, but his execution is confused. He clearly wants to capture the heart and soul of Bombay, but seems to be limited by his obvious journalistic and dispassionate style. At times the city gets the better of him and he lets go, but not often enough. This is in my opinion is the biggest drawback of the book - it's just stuck somewhere in between an extended non-fiction journal piece and a string of stories linked together by the theme of a city.
3. The book is way too long. Enough people have already pointed this out, so I won't belabour the point, but really, the obsession with writing about the Mafia is totally tedious. If that was what the book was intended to be about, I would have no complaints, but it wasn't, and I think it's unfair to devote half the book (directly or indirectly) to this subject.
4.Read more ›
The only problem is that Mehta doesn't know when to stop, over-covering his subjects to the point of exhaustion, and occasionally going off on unfocused tangents, such as the story of his involvement in producing a cheesy Bollywood movie. The book mostly managed to keep me interested through all its 500+ pages, as Metha would eventually introduce intriguing new people or situations. But each chapter is usually way too long in itself, and sometimes it feels like the book will never end as you long for Mehta to wrap up one story and either get to the next or just bring the book to an authoritative conclusion. Mehta has created a highly intriguing book about an overwhelming city that would scare away the weak-hearted, but his prose tends to get overwhelming too. [~doomsdayer520~]
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I will never ever go to this city after reading this book, but it sure is fun to armchair travel there. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Alice Friedemann
In the tradition of the Bhagavad Gita, a no holds barred look at previously inscrutable city life on Earth today. Read morePublished 2 months ago by David A. Mccrae
Written with love. Mumbai was always on my list of destinations - now even more. Brilliant character portaits and lifelines. Plenty of lessons in how to adapt to seeming chaos. Read morePublished 3 months ago by BusyB
Fascinating look into indian cukture that yiu wont find anywhere else.Published 5 months ago by john smith
what a great read..started it on a Friday and was done on Sunday afternoon....what a great read..lots of infoPublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fair. Interesting about Mumbai but not as cultural as I'd have liked.Published 8 months ago by Felicia Demos
Dense and rich book which opens up a wonderful window about Mumbai / Bombay, especially precious to tourists or business travellers like myself who will rarely, if ever, get a... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Antoine J. Bachmann