The traditional paper version of the book has survived many changing eras, and remained man’s best friend. The internet has threatened to ruin the relationship man has had with books. But there is this special ‘sweet candy’ like taste which book enthusiasts derive from reading which is similar to what a cool glass of water does when someone wants to quench thirst.
Writer Tim Parks (author of Teach us to sit still) says that he wishes a book isn’t labeled or classified into any category, and instead should standout for the ability to surprise a reader totally. Parks also states that such books should help man’s evolution into someone extraordinary.
There are enough authors, representing the present generation, who are absorbed in the content, that’s already interesting, that they don’t seem to put effort into making their words create magic on the pages. We can’t forget that this is the ‘what is in it for me’ era. True, most ambitious readers want to earn as much as they wish with the knowledge they garner; either at university, through the special degree course they take or from the books they invest on.
It seems writers are controlled immensely by the needs of the present reading generation. This gives the message that self-help books and books on selected academic subjects guarantee sales over classical master pieces. Many renowned publishers in Sri Lanka have conveyed through the media that books that use obscene language and promise entertainment have greater selling power when compared to classical stuff. This writer is talking about the classical stuff which wins literary awards in this little island.
But despite observing what type of books sell briskly at the cashier’s desk inside bookstores, we can’t ignore the fact that some brave authors are still working hard to produce books which catch the eye for its creativity. Still life with breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen, Book of unknown Americans by Cristina Henriques, The pigeon needs a bath by Mo Williams, The sleepwalker’s guide to dancing by Mira Jacob and The seeker by Karan Bajaj are titles of books which made this writer browse the internet to find more publications by these authors for curiosity sake.
Novels are basically penned for entertainment. That’s the guideline given to authors who do it for a living. But there have been the exceptions. Karan Bajaj in the book The seeker writes about Maximus Pzoras, a Harward Economist and Wall Street banker, who sets off to India to find the cause for human suffering. Reviews on the book have questioned whether the author is writing from personal experience? There is also author Ernest Hemingway who tapped his travelling experiences to penning his books, especially in the series The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
But what books like The seeker and The Snows of Kilimanjaro underscore is the question whether a writer can insert so much of experiences into a book and still make it sell in an era where people don’t much care about how others live their lives? Dan Brown, the author of many bestselling novels, believes that he has to satisfy himself in whatever writing he undertakes. He was once quoted in a television interview saying, “I write things which I myself would want to read and then hope others too would share the same taste when it comes to reading”.
As much as a book offers relaxation to someone stressed out, it also cuts a path for its author, who may be battered by everything that restricts an individual, to create on paper his or her ideal world. The art of writing books helps create an avenue to realize fantasies! Elizabeth Gilbert does this in the book Eat, pray, love. The plot here is about a woman who leaves behind all the trappings of modern America (marriage, a house in the country and a career) and find instead, according to a review in www.amazon.com, what she truly wants from life. The book is a memoir about a year of travelling where she finds three different aspects of her nature amidst three different cultures. What better example can one quote to underscore the amazing magic of a book!
From saying the unsayable regarding wars that have been fought to taboo topics in religion, creative authors have over the years shown that living off what you write is a matter of persistence. Long life to those gifted authors for taking us through the pages of their stories and landing us in a world where time stops.