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Published on: 02/9/22 11:58 AM

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Book review: Why Don`t You Write Something I Might Read by Suresh Menon

Why Don`t You Write Something I Might Read? By Suresh Menon. Westland Context.
There are two important reasons you should get this book asap and settle in for a jolly good read.
One, it`s a Westland book, so, show them some book-love.
Two, Suresh Menon is a gifted writer, as those of us who have been reading his sports columns over the years know. He has a neat turn of phrase and a quiet wit which will get you happily reading stuff you wouldn’t otherwise. I should know, I was a lapsed devotee but his writings on cricket has got me back to watching the game, if not back to actually falling in that manic fan pit.
In `Why don`t you…`, Menon turns his gaze upon literature and the craft of writing, good writers, bad writers, bad sex writing, and inescapable facts like how there can be no more fundamental reason for reading than enjoyment, and how it is difficult to be subjective about writers who have provided hours of joy in the reading or the rereading.
If he does drop names like Kant, Hume, Duchamp, Auden, Proust, he does it deftly, lightly. He focuses on some aspects of the works of writers like Tom Wolfe, Marques, Muriel Spark, Clive James, Le Carre, Dante, showing how those parts go to make up a beautiful whole.
He tells us that ghostwriters do a public service, of how he persuaded Pico Iyer to write on cricket, of his interactions with V S Naipaul, Venki Ramakrishnan and others. He pays an unabashedly sentimental tribute to Blossom and Bookworm, the iconic bookshops of Bangalore.
He talks of Wodehouse the mystery writer, Agatha Christie`s preference for poison as a murder weapon, and how best to answer that irritating question: have you read all the books you own? He describes his love for reading style manuals and doffs a hat to translations that, in Umberto Eco`s words, is a negotiation not just between words but between cultures.
He discloses that he had a kind of reader`s block during the worst of the pandemic, how he steadfastly refuses to become a new man, to learn new stuff, and ignores all attempts at quarantine-shaming.
Through Menon`s eyes, we see the possibilities of intriguing stories in the inscriptions of books bought from secondhand bookstores; we muse over the inescapable fact that a book reads differently to us at different times in our lives, because of the manner in which each reading places on it another level of meaning.
We glean that as per the last census figures, there are 70, 187 libraries in rural India and just 4,580 of them in urban India. We read how the poet Agha Shahid Ali said a good writer never sacrifices the aesthetics of a line in order to make a political point; that it has to work at the level of poetry first.
And yes, we learn what it means to fauci.
essaysessays on literatureSuresh menonWestland ContextWhy Don`t You Write Something I Might Read

Sheila Kumar • February 9, 2022


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Comments

  1. Shirley Hereford February 9, 2022 - 12:38 pm Reply

    Suresh Menon had me at the title and you clinched it with the last few sentences . Thank you for the glimmer in the glom ?

    • Sheila Kumar September 21, 2022 - 8:53 am Reply

      Just saw this, Shirl. Thank you for those kind words.

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