Autobiographies are illuminating.They may be written near the end of the life or at the end of a remarkable or unique period in life. In such cases ,there might be series of them. Some authors have written autobiographies in as much as 8 , fat volumes.( Famous Marathi writer Mr.P.K.Atre).I haven’t read these , but I sometimes think ....has he written about each single day in his life? I must find this out....
I read a few autobiographies last year.
One of these was Salman Rushdie’s ‘Joseph Anton’ which is an autobiographical account of his life in and around the infamous Fatwa period. I had started reading it sometime back, but have given it up temporarily (for the reasons given below) ... I hope to come back to it soon....
About the book. : The story of origin of the name ‘Joseph Anton’ is interesting - taken from first names of authors Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov .
The good thing about this book is he describes about conception and writing processes of all the books he wrote.(I had expected it to be centered only around this turbulent period in his life.) It traces the journey of the writer, the ideas which became his books , the influences on his mind ,the books he read ....
As believed by majority ,the story of The Satanic Verses is not a product of author’s imagination.Rushdie studied Islam in Cambridge,in a critical thinking module and while writing for a paper on the same he came across this story in ‘The Quran’ itself. Rushdie was a voracious reader as a child and ‘The Lord of the rings’ influenced him a great deal...that is where the magic in his books comes from.
The bad/boring part about the book (or the reason why I have left the book halfway) is the sameness which percolates through the book after some time: you can not distinguish between the various episodes of hiding,running,and fear .... They are significant to the author,he has suffered because of them,but as a reader we are indifferent to his plight.
Another interesting fact about the book : Rushdie has written it in third person , is that the reason why the reader is also detached from the book ?
13 long years...of writing boring , unformed stories ,of rejections, heartbreaks and boring office jobs .....till he wrote his first successful book …’The midnight’s children’...he had found himself !
Book no 2 : Leila Seth’s ‘On balance’ .
I bought this book because it was very cheap (Just ₹20) ,I didn't even have the intention to read it ... (In my local library they sell books, when several copies of the same book are received in donation. )
I started reading it when I was going through a rough patch in my career . And yes ....it actually helped....Daily reading of a few pages of this book helped me regain my balance and perspective.
I actually expected a person in legal profession to be a dry and boring writer, but this book is written in a very simple language and is immensely readable. Even the part where she discusses her work is good. I liked it particularly because it depicts the journey of a woman , who perfectly balanced her career and home.
Just a question that comes to my mind : how do these people remember so many things in detail ? A sharp memory or a habit of keeping a diary ? ( Rushdie mentions diaries in his narrative...)
Few more autobiographies are waiting on My shelf...but currently I have gone back to a fiction reading mode....