Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gerald Durrell: The one author I adore

It's after a long, long time after which I am reading Gerald Durrell. I find myself curled up somewhere cosy, smiling, nodding, moving my lips silently to read some lines I like the sound of and letting out shrill laughs every few pages or so. These bursts of mirth startle Mitrajit from his single-minded dedication to television and my complete oblivion to all things else puts a faint pout on his face at times.

Gerald Durrell, after all, means you keep turning one page after the other laughing out loud at Larry's audacity, his parade of friends who turn up announced, their endearing 'Mother' and Gerry's endless collection of animals- from frogs to owls to baby terrapins.

His role as a crusader for wildlife conservation slightly sidelines Durrell’s recognition as an accomplished author with an impeccable, original writing style. His proficiency with the written word per say is not as thoroughly acknowledged. I, for one, love Durrell not only for his wonderful tales on Corfu, but for his much extensive vocabulary and his power of description.

If you can dissect the sentences from the story, you will see just to what heights can Durrel take the art of description to. Even if you don't fancy reading about a battalion of animals, read Durrell as an exercise in writing, to read about how refreshingly can one use colours, smells and the most unlikely similies to describe people, places and situations. I feel his works, especially the Corfu Trilogies, should be made a compulsory reading for students learning how to write features.

The Corfu trilogy (My Family and other animals followed by Birds, Beasts and Relatives and finally The Garden of the Gods) fills up the most fun within the pages. I still remember that chapter in 'My Family...' when Mr. Kralefsky, his tutor takes him to meet his ancient mother. The description of the room full of flowers left my head spinning in admiration and happiness. I lingered on that chapter for a long time, making notes, copying beautiful sentences and generally awestruck by such beauty on paper...

I am truly grateful to Rani maushi who gifted me with a copy of My family and other animals some five years back. Since then, our love affair with the Durrell family began. However when we got enthralled by his writing, we discovered his books were really hard to find and were very atrociously priced, as is with all good books. It’s at the British Council here that I discovered a wealth of his books after a long hiatus.

I have only about ten pages left to finish The Garden of Gods. I feel slightly sorry when any good book is about to come an end. It's a silly, eccentric quirk, but then finishing a lovely book means being no longer able to turn the pages in anticipation...

A delightful read.