I'm not a huge fan of V.S. Naipaul and the only reason which propelled me to read this book was the Ivory Merchant film made on it. The movie was a disappointment which came as a surprise since most films made under the Ivory Merchant banner are very impressive (I recently saw Anita Desai's 'In Custody' and liked it immensely) but this one fell short especially where the screenplay was concerned.
The book, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. It was the right length unlike 'A House for Mr. Biswas' which seemed never-ending. The few conclusions I've come to (on a lighter note) after finishing it are:
1. The quantity of books on display in your house is directly proportional to making a good impression on people. Especially if you live in a place where most people are illiterate.
Even though a lot of literate people around us don't read these days, I'm afraid large quantities of books will fail to impress people in your social circle. Invest in an expensive, designer book shelf and fill it up with expensive looking 'coffee table' books in order to impress.
2. If you're not able to do something it is because it wasn't meant to be rather than your lack of skills or hard work. As the protagonist, Ganesh, put it, "We never are what we want to be, he wrote, but what we must be".
See? Just blame fate.
3. A tip for a successful marriage? Don't read or buy too many books. Unless you have a back up plan of becoming a 'mystic healer'.
4. The new 'it' word is mystic.
5. It's a good idea to become a writer in a place where a) no one belonging to your race/nationality has ever written anything, b) there are no literature festivals and c) the only printing press just prints wedding cards, or handbills.
6. Your physical appearance is very important when it comes to climbing the ladder of success and wealth. Don't just play the part, LOOK the part.
7. Coca Cola served in very fancy glasses on a hot summer day is guaranteed to win people over. These days replace it with something stronger and preferably NOT black.
8. Politics is the way forward to change your life forever. (Remember the emphasis is on YOUR life).
9. It is okay to change your name from 'Pundit Ganesh Ramsumair' to 'G. Ramsay Muir'. Modesty is not in fashion these days.
10. Write what you want to write and if you pour your heart and soul into it, it will find the right readers.