The Valley of Masks
"This book is one that has to be read again and again and each time you read it, you will discover new things about yourself. So ten years later, it will be a new book altogether. This book has the essence of a classic …" — Suresh MenonHis first book — The Alchemy of Desire — was what I fell totally in love with. Part of it, I admit, had to do with knowing him, his family, and many of his views. But the book was superbly delightful, too. If you haven't read it yet, go and get it!
The second book — The Story of My Assassins — knocked my socks off. It was better than anything I'd read by a prose writer from the sub-continent in years — Manto & Ismat aside. It rattled my brain. I have promised to read it again next year, if I am around.
Tarun told me earlier this year that this book was among the deepest things he could think of. I've just got the book (Thank you, Geetan and Ritu!) and started reading it. The first few sentences have me glued to it, but I thought I'd share them with you all before I get into it and complete the book ASAP.
This is my story. And the story of my people. It is not a long story. Some men would tell it in the time it takes to drink a glass of bittersweet Ferment. And then there are those who would tell it in such detail that barrels would be drained dry and they would not arrive at its end. I am in between — too confused to be too short or too long. I was not always so. Once I was a man of opinion and will and purpose. Men turned to me for fixity when their hearts and minds wavered. Once. Today my crisis is time.
"I had plunged into a pool of memory I had carefully skirted every day of my life. I could smell the hair, the skin, the warm breath that was sweet when she fell to sleep and miraculously sweet when she woke. In my hands swelled plum breasts and I was held by strong limbs I never wanted to leave. My heart was beating in a way it had never before and would never again ..."