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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Books Read Lately: Narayan, Graves, Golding

Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan

Narayan wrote of Indian life of the 1930s – 50s. The small town he invented, Malgudi, is a universal that we all can understand, if only for the differences in technology, food, and the Indian culture. Otherwise, we see the lovely humanity of Swami and his childhood friends as they negotiate school, games, friendships, and parents. This story is a real treat, and the omnibus “Malgudi Stories” is enchanting, and haunting.


I, Claudius by Robert Graves

Claudius is the Caesar between Tiberius and Caligula. A happy group, these oddly incestuous clans were. Claudius is perhaps the most unpredictable character in fiction (or history) because he was a nobody nephew/uncle who rose to Roman heights. Along the way, he has given us a chronicle, through Graves’ writing mastery, of the 50-years in which families commit intrigue left and right. The most scary of which are the women, who are constantly (and I imagine, must have had to) manipulating their men. Case in point: Tiberius needed an ally, so he forced his daughter to divorce her husband and marry some old cretin; momma was really behind the plot. Yes, the happy elites of ancient times.


Rights of Passage by William Golding

I recently read “Darkness Visible” by Golding, and was entranced by the oddity and strangeness of the characters and story. With “Passage” I was not; this story is predictable, barely engaging, and mostly a series of cobbled incidents that don’t make much of an impact, while they are happening or afterwards. Frankly, I didn’t finish the book, and had to fire it about 2/3 through. Life is short enough without bad fiction. Nevertheless, I’m going to read “Pincher Martin” soon, and shall hope for that Golding light to shine.


What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.

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