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MUST READ: The Beach

india Updated: Sep 04, 2006 15:17 IST
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The Beach
Alex Garland
Price — $10
Publication — Riverhead Books

Is it better to read the book first or see the movie first? The conflict is not in a mood to evaporate in a jiffy. Sometimes though it doesn’t make a difference. When Alex Garland wrote The Beach did he have any clue to the mass hysteria he was about to set up?

The pop culture story about Richard, a twenty something Brit, who comes across a map to a secret beach vanished from the stalls when it was first launched. It was more than just a craze.

So what was it that made this book such a phenomenal success? To begin with, it could have to do with its roots as a pop culture novel. Somewhere this benefits the new age readers who would rather have something they can identify with.

Secondly, the age old desire to have a foothold in a piece of paradise. One could go back a long, long time in English literature to seek this idea. Johann Wyss’ Swiss Family Robinson delves upon the same theme of an uninhabited island for keeps.

The Beach transplants this beach to South East Asia, namely Thailand. Then of course the journey isn't smooth, nor should it be. The Beach is essentially a thriller. And a good thriller at that one.

When the gun trotting marijuana dealers lay their claim to this piece of paradise in the Thai seas, the rest of the pioneers have to flee. It would be strange indeed if one hasn't read The Beach.

Even before Dan Brown came up, it was this novel that was the ‘must do’ read. Perhaps it is the idea of that secret beach that haunts travellers even today.

Or a certain recognition with the contemporary world. Whatever it might be The Beach has long become a cult classic.