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The Golden Gate: 12/18/12
Vikram Seth is best known for A Suitable Boy but seven years earlier he wrote, The Golden Gate, a novel about life in and around San Francisco, done as more than one hundred sonnets. I read the book for its location and it's unusual narrative approach.
As poetry, each sonnet stands along fine. Each one is a snippet, a little window into life in San Francisco from the turbulent 1970s midway through the consumer driven 1980s. As a slice of Americana, the book is feeling dated. It relies too heavily on popular culture that has since moved in other directions.
Setting the poetry aside to look at the characters and situations, there's not a lot there. The numerous characters all blend together to the point that names no longer really matter. There is a recurring theme of loss and disappointment but without a strong character foundation, these themes don't hit their mark.