Witty, self-assured Wendy Cope seems to be the Jane Austen of verse, writing about love, domesticity and a woman’s life, till her playfulness reminds you of Oscar Wilde.
Poems can be passionate, forthright, mysterious, allusive, elegiac, tender, wistful, as various and beautiful in different ways as women and the earth.
Clive James is as effusive on the joys of flying as in his praise of the Indian writer Nirad C Chaudhuri. And few have written better. Funny, vivid, acute, he punches all the right buttons needed to be a good writer.
VS Naipaul writes about race, prejudice, Elvis Presley, country music and tobacco in A Turn in the South, about his journey through southern United States. Remarkably, he compares the “rednecks” with the Indians of his childhood in Trinidad.
Reading Tom Wolfe for the first time was like listening to rock ’n’ roll. I was blown away.
But reading him now after all these years is like listening to Little Richard. His breathless opening paragraphs, his occasionally manic style, can be overpowering at times.
Pico Iyer gets India so right in Video Night in Kathmandu. He is spot on about Indians being allured by America but many of them being Anglophiles, too, in the 1980s.
I have been reading Bill Clinton’s memoirs, My Life, and am pleasantly surprised. He has an easy conversational style and there are charming vignettes in the book. His love for his mother and his grandparents — “Mammaw” and “Papaw” — his feelings about his stepfather, whose surname Clinton he took, all come through.
Once upon a time, there were more Indian than Chinese voters in Singapore. Hard to believe but true.
Indians outnumbered the Chinese when the first general election to the Legislative Council was held in 1948. Only British subjects were eligible to vote. Out of a potential electorate of more than 200,000, only 23,000 registered to vote, and more than 10,000 of them were Indians, recalled CM Turnbull in A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005.
When a young man came to Singapore from Calcutta many years ago, he didn’t know he was following in the footsteps of Sir Stamford Raffles. The one difference: He came by air. Raffles came by sea — on the ship Indiana, with his deputy, Major William Farquhar, on board another vessel, the Ganges.
Cherubic Cupid, winging his way with bow and arrows to shoot at hearts, graces countless valentines. The little Roman god of love has proved more durable than the Roman empire. What explains his lasting appeal when another god of love languishes in relative obscurity?