I have been a fan of Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten ever since I came across The Mersey Sound, Penguin Modern Poets 10, in my schooldays. Published in 1967, the same year as the Beatles came out with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it had the same mixture of whimsy, youthfulness and social commentary. Like the Beatles, McGough, Henri and Patten came from Liverpool; hence the title of their anthology, The Mersey Sound. It was a bestseller and I loved it. Especially the poems Tonight at Noon and Love Is…, both by Adrian Henri.Continue reading “Roger McGough’s Summer with Monika”
I can’t forget John le Carre’s description of spymaster George Smiley catching a glimpse of his wife Ann cheating on him.
The scene came to my mind as I read the obituaries of John le Carre, who died on December 12 at the age of 89.Continue reading “John le Carre’s spymaster George Smiley and his faithless wife”
Two people I admire greatly died this year: the legendary editor Harold Evans and Jan Morris, the only writer I know who had written both as a man and a woman.Continue reading “Jan Morris and Harold Evans”
Hamlet tells Horatio:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
His words seem all too true today if you substitute science for philosophy. Who ever thought a virus transmitted by a bat could disrupt the whole world?Continue reading “Can literature be a healer in a pandemic?”
Continue reading “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2014, depicts the suffering and brutality inflicted on Australian prisoners of war (POWs) by their Japanese captors who forced them to build the infamous Death Railway though the jungle from Thailand to Burma.
It feels like heaven,
To be reading PG Wodehouse again,
Hailed by critics one and all,
As the Garden of Eden before the Fall,
Even in her 90s, Jan Morris remains a pleasure to read. I am re-reading her book, In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary, first published in 2018, when she was 91 or 92 years old. And what a pleasure it is. She is observant as ever, recording her observations in beautiful prose. Filled with fond reminiscences, gentle humour and painterly descriptions, this is a diary of a happy and fulfilled life.Continue reading “Jan Morris’ beautiful diary”
Unleash The Poet Within
Is a primer for women
To try their hand at verse,
Though why it’s male-averse
I’ve no notion
For. Is the author,
A literary feminist,
A versifying specialist,
Intent on a sorority
Skilled in prosody,
But absolutely no time
To teach men to rhyme?
Did Bengal’s last independent ruler Nawab Siraj ud-Daula bring about his own downfall and pave the way for the British conquest of India by his attack on Calcutta, destroying the city? The question came to my mind after reading William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.Continue reading “William Dalrymple, Bengal and East India Company”
Often wry and dry, mocking and wistful in turns, sometimes even bitter and foul-mouthed, Philip Larkin is no Wordsworth, William Blake or Keats. He doesn’t go into raptures about love or nature or into spiritual ecstasy. He isn’t a poet who offers solace or comfort. And yet, as James Booth says in his book, Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love:Continue reading “The poems of Philip Larkin”