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Customer Review

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Much of a Town That's Too Much, June 12, 2005
This review is from: Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (Hardcover)
This is definitely not a tourist guide to the sunny and acceptable side of the teeming and monstrous city of Bombay. Suketu Mehta, an American transplant, decided to return to his hometown and investigate its endless and often horrific underbelly - the world that the vast majority of its inhabitants have learned to live in. Underlying Mehta's general coverage of poverty, overcrowding, crime, ethnic conflict, and black market economics are in-depth character sketches of people surviving the dark side of Bombay. My favorite portion of the book covers Mehta's time with a forlorn exotic dancer that he calls Monalisa, while he also delves deeply into the lives of crime lords, street thugs, a harried police detective, a budding poet living on the streets, and even a family of Jain monks, all of whom have stories that would rarely if ever be told in more upscale narratives. This all makes the book unexpectedly harsh, vulgar, violent, and surprisingly fascinating from a human point of view.

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~]
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 30, 2008, 9:35:55 AM PST
Perfect review, exactly what I thought as well
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