The week in reading 4/15

Graham Greene, an all time favorite bringing back memories of my early years. I have referred to this before and  discussed his “End of the Affair” in a recent post. I have enjoyed what ever little I have read of Pico Iyer and by now you all know that I am partial to travel writing, which is his genre. I believe he has also published fiction, but I have not read any of those. He is a cerebral travel writer. And ever since I read a review of this book some time ago, it has stayed high on my ‘To read” list. And finally, I got to it; and what a treat it is!!

The book is a very candid and heart felt biography of Iyer himself and the title is taken after Greene’s first book ‘The man within’. Iyer,  a compulsive traveler especially of the less traveled destinations (Cuba, Bhutan, Bolivia), finds much in common with Greene who also traveled to unknown places at a different time in history. But through this and other connections to Greene, he explores his connections with his father. It is clear that he has read everything Greene ever wrote and also what has been written on Greene, a popular author of his time. He dwells most frequently on ‘The Quiet American” and ‘The power and the glory’ – Fowler in the earlier book and the priest in the latter being unforgettable characters. He writes ” in the world he’d made so real to me in his books, at the mercy of much larger forces, pushed back to essentials, without a home. The only thing you could possibly do in such circumstances was to see that so many others were in a similar predicament and reach out towards them; what you shared was not faith, usually, but unsettledness.”

This was a good book, which I have marked for a re-read, after I re-read ‘The Quiet American’ and “The power and the glory’.

This is the other book I finished this week. The large ancient cemetery (that’s what the  word means) that the author refers to here, is Delhi and Delhi is at the heart of this very readable book. It is a ‘cop’ book, which deals with a series of inter-linked crimes, as seen by the three very different police officers who make up the Special Investigation team. The cops are interesting (including a young woman IPS officer) as are the cases, a set of very Delhi-type crimes but with a twist. And for a Delhite like me, Delhi, with all its seasons, flavors, up-market savvy locales and the shabby urban villages, the people comes through very warm and alive. An enjoyaboe read..

And I finally got around to  read Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ (free download on my Kindle). There are so many quotations going around from this book, that by this time I felt that I must have read a lot of it. And it used to irritate me that I had not read the book in total , when I was ticking the various lists  of great books!! And it was not quiet what I expected. I have never read the love for all things nature better expressed. And the depth of Thoreau’s grasp (the Gita, the Greek classics, Buddhism…) and the width of his liberalism, especially as the book was written around 1850, really dazzles. Its not a one-sitting read as there is no plot or movement, but simple language that can be savored in little bits.

I also read a small book of Thoreau called ‘Walking” – because of reference to this book in an article  in the Brain Pickings weekly and the fact that I love walking myself!


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