*Replace ‘he’ with ‘she’ as required
It’s his first book. You pick it up only because it was recommended. You read the back cover. Writing is not his first love. You’re sceptical of first time writers, especially ones who haven’t been killing themselves to perfect the art of writing. You look at the name of the publisher. Not a bad one. So he has been able to convince them. Interesting. You read the foreword. He has been promoted by big names. He had connections. People who could put in a good word for him here or there. Your scepticism only increases.
The author’s bio details his professional life. A few bare facts listed without emotion.
Page 1. You aren’t greatly impressed. You could almost sense the author’s hands shake as he wrote the first line. There is a jitter, an uncertainty. Can I really do this?-type. You smirk and continue.
It is a memoir. You let out a chuckle on page 2. He is funny. Sort of. At least he knows how to laugh at himself.
You don’t realise you have crossed twenty pages. That was smooth and engrossing. Not a writer, huh? Some writer must have polished it for him, naturally. But who cares? Why do you try to justify the good writing? Of course someone would have edited it. Every good writer needs a great editor. This is a good read. Period. Don’t let your writer-reader head work more than necessary.
Flipping more and more pages. It is a small-ish book. And it is funny. In some places, uncontrollably so. A little spiced up, perhaps. But again, who cares, as long as it is not over-done. You go back to the author’s bio. Who is he?
He calls himself lucky. I was there at the right place at the right time. I was the only one who got the chance. This repeats, and your innate intolerance lifts its hairy head. Surely he was not the only one, there were others? You remember the time when you overheard someone say, “No one could calm the screaming infant for hours. Then I came, gently touched his arm and he quieted down within seconds.” Yeah, right.
But this one? He is sincere and modest. He really believes it. You’re curious again; you go back to the bio. What are you looking for? Something between the lines. There’s nothing.
He is kind to the other characters in the memoir. Even when they misbehave, he stops short of abusing them. Is it real? Or a writer’s need to appear politically correct? You sense a gap. There is a slight rounding of the edges.
You close the book. The journey’s over. But you’re still there, out on the road. And you’re smiling.
You’ve been there. Not exactly, but somewhere nearby. You’ve been hearing his thoughts. You’re seeing the world through his eyes. You’re inside. Yes, you know who he is. You have been reading between the lines, from the moment you picked up the book.
And you wonder, you wonder…
Every time I finish reading my favorite author, I get on to a new writer (who I have not read before) for freshness and for a different style. Book series like "First Proof: The Penguin Book of New Writing" really help me to find new authors. I like reading some of them, then I explore their other writings and I do get my new favorites.
Then the cycle repeats. I have books by Tagore and Anuradha Roy on the same shelf.
I could so relate to this. They stay even after we finish reading the book. And then I end up wanting for more. Recently happened when I first read Patricial Cornwell. Now I got almost all of her collection 🙂
I like books that DO NOT make me look at the clock or the number of pages I completed so I can close it for the day.