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December 16th, 2003

Ants and Books and Fictional Genealogies

The ants continue to plague us. They've never been this persistent before, and I'm finding it rather frustrating. Yesterday they discovered the cats' food dishes upstairs and swarmed over them with excitement. Munchkin was sorely distressed. I put some ant stakes outside, and when Shannon finishes work for the day we're going to walk up to Ace Hardware to see if we can find anything safe enough to use inside. Bleh.

Now that I've finished the McKiernan, I've begun reading Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. I looked through my to-be-read pile and got it narrowed down to this one, Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger, Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River, or Ahdaf Soueif's The Map of Love. I was also tempted for a moment, I must admit, by Donna Woolfolk Cross's Pope Joan. For some reason, The God of Small Things called to me just a bit more than the others, and so I started reading it pretty much first thing this morning.

Now, I'm finding The God of Small Things wonderfully engaging, written as it is with the lush lyricism so common among Indian writers, but I'm having one slight problem: I need a genealogical chart to keep track of the characters. When I reached page 11, I paused to scribble notes on my bookmark:
Rahel - female twin (third-person narrator)
Esthappen (a.k.a. Estha) - male twin
Ammu - mother to twins (not married to twins' father)
Baba - father to twins
Baby Kochamma (a.k.a. Navomi Ipe) - grand-aunt to twins, sister of grandfather (Ammu's father), Ammu's aunt
Sophie Mol - cousin to twins, daughter of Chacko and Margaret, died age 9
Chacko Kochamma - uncle of twins, brother of Ammu, father of Sophie
Margaret Kochamma - ex-wife of Chacko, mother of Sophie, Englishwoman
Reverend E. John Ipe - father of Baby Kochamma and Ammu's father, grandfather to Ammu, great-grandfather to twins
Mammachi - grandmother to twins (and Sophie), Ammu and Chacko's mother, Baby Kochamma's sister-in-law
Velutha - ??? ... described as "barebodied and shining", arrested for some reason (possibly Ammu's fault?)
Once I've developed a more complete list, I'll probably try to construct a family tree to help me stay cognizant of how everyone is related, because I just can't keep all this stuff in my head at the same time. I don't even think that this particular problem is related to my recent attention span issues, because I remember frequently (and gratefully) consulting the genealogical charts in the front of both John Crowley's Little, Big and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.

If anyone happens to know of an existing genealogical chart for The God of Small Things somewhere out on the Internet, I'd be eternally grateful if you could point me to it. I've done some searching, but came up metaphorically empty-handed.

If I do end up creating one myself, I'll be sure to make it available online for others who need it.

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