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Books

Reluctant Editor: A seminal editor’s memoirs

Reluctant Editor is the memoirs of a newspaper editor who played a seminal role in Singapore journalism. PN Balji writes he hesitated when he was offered the editor’s job at The New Paper because he was worried about his health, having had an angioplasty operation in America. But his wife told him to accept the job.

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Books Poetry

The delightful poems of Wendy Cope

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.

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Books Poetry

Poetry will save your life

Poems can be passionate, forthright, mysterious, allusive, elegiac, tender, wistful, as various and beautiful in different ways as women and the earth.

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Books

Clive James on Naipaul and Nirad Chaudhuri

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.

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Books

Naipaul: A Turn in the South

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.

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Books

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

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.

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Books

Pico Iyer, Video Night and Indians

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.

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Books

Bill Clinton: My Life

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.

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Music

Year-end chartbusters 50 years ago

What were the most popular songs constantly on air 50 years ago? These were the Top 10 songs in Britain and America at the end of December 1969.

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Books India Singapore

Indians in Singapore

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.