`Dancing to the Flute' falls short on substance
(AP) - "Dancing to the Flute" (Atria), by Manisha Jolie Amin
A little boy appears in an Indian village, not remembering his name nor where he was from. But he is charming, clever and musically gifted, and manages to make his way, thanks largely to the kindness of strangers.
His talent for playing the flute brings him to the notice of a wandering healer whose brother is a famed musician. That brother decides to take on the boy, known as Kalu, as a student. And over the years, both learn much.
"Dancing to the Flute" is Manisha Jolie Amin's first novel and her American literary debut. It is an airy, free-floating tale, evoking the notes of a flute on the wind.
The author writes that each part of the novel is supposed to mimic an Indian melodic form known as the raag, starting slowly and gaining pace as it progresses. But the book doesn't quite achieve lyrical status, although it tries very hard.
The boy at the center of the story is actually its least interesting character. It's the others around him- the meek servant girl, the downtrodden buffalo handler and others- who give the book what little heft it has. There are two particularly powerful moments in the book, and Kalu is something of a side-note in each of them.
One of the downfalls of trying to make a book "lyrical" or "atmospheric" is that it's easy to simultaneously make it too vague. It's a bit unfair to the reader, who can struggle to try to understand what just happened in a paragraph or a chapter.
Sacrificing substance for style doesn't always work. "Dancing to the Flute" falls short of achieving exceptional style, and it definitely could have used more substance.
Follow Nahal Toosi on Twitter at twitter.com/nahaltoosi.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Arizona Diamondbacks' Bronson Arroyo may not be ready at start of season
- Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley excited to pitch in Australia
- Signing with Arizona Diamondbacks 'perfect' for Oliver Perez
- D-backs finalize deal with LHP Oliver Perez
- Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley to pitch in Australia, ‘still in the mix' to pitch in big leagues
- Pedro Gomez, ESPN MLB reporter - Monday March 10Pedro Gomez discusses Barry Bonds' return to the Giants.
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President and CEO - Thursday March 6How is the battle at shortstop going for the D-backs?
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Wednesday March 5How important is it for professional athletes to have good character?
- Alan Trammell, D-backs bench coach - Tuesday March 4D-backs bench coach Alan Trammell discusses Archie Bradley's impressive Cactus League debut.
- Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks pitcher - Tuesday March 4Archie Bradley discusses his first Cactus League start against the Rockies.
- Richard Justice, MLB.com correspondent - Tuesday March 4Is baseball held to a higher standard than other sports?
- Brad Ziegler, D-backs relief pitcher - Monday March 3D-backs relief pitcher Brad Ziegler discusses the upcoming season.