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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Buddha Da by Anne Donovan

Buddha Da: A Novel

Anne Marie's dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member.

One of my main criticisms when I am reading and reviewing books is that sometimes I struggle with a particular vernacular.  If it is written with a heavy Southern or Negro vernacular then I find it hard to get into the story and I am often tempted to give up as I am not enjoying the book.  See my review on Go Tell it on the mountain by James Baldwin if you need an example.

So, it was with this in mind that I chose this book as this months read for one of my book groups.  I wanted the others to get some sort of understanding of what I mean when I say I struggle with certain American dialects.
Written entirely in my birth dialect of Glaswegian it does take a couple of chapters, even for me to get into the rhythm of this book.   It must have been an extremely hard book to write doing so entirely in Glaswegian without even any descriptive paragraphs in plain English.  I am quite impressed with the authors ability to do this as it would have been quite easy to just keep the conversations in Glaswegian while putting descriptive paragraphs in simpler terms.

The story itself is not a classic but it does have some depth and meaning below the surface, although some of that may be lost with people struggling to understand the language.  I felt quite sad for the characters in the end.  Although there was an element of happiness, I just thought that they would never be quite the same again and that there would always be a sadness in their minds for various reasons (trying not to give away a spoiler).

One criticism is that, despite the title, I thought it did not go into Buddhism enough or indeed Jimmy's journey in and out of it.  I felt that the whole side story with Anne Marie and Nisha and the CD was unnecessary and I would have liked more about Jimmy himself.  I know that the point of the whole Anne Marie story, was probably to show how for a 12 year old, life just goes on no matter what is happening with her parents and that she is, blissfully, unaware of all the drama that Jimmy and Liz is going through.  Credit to her parents for shielding her from it all though.

A good read to help me prove a point to my book group and one that does make one think but it is no classic or must read for everyone.  4 out of 5.

To end I want to write out a Scottish toast that you should give before eating or drinking:

Here's Tae Us; Wha's Like Us?.....
....Damn Few
and they're a' deid!

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