Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

A Picture Book

Where art meets words.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Other Books

Words can create pictures too.

The power of imagination.

Words, words, words

Where Conversations Begin

A good conversation is a good life

Where conversations begin

All About Writing

Random thoughts on the how and why of writing

Why write

Epiphany at the Gym

A gym is a wondrous place—lined wall-to-wall with machines and equipment designed to coax you back to good health, and maintain it. There is also the help-you-to-lose-weight regimen, but let’s just say that is a subset of supporting good health. A trainer crafts a schedule based on your health and constitution. Then you go in, work out, leave. One feels virtuous, attending the gym regularly.

On the way to the machine rooms is the exercise hall—large, breezy, well-lit, one wall lined with mirrors. And almost always the most enticing music pours out the room. Happy people exercising to the music. Wouldn’t that be more fun than the ‘torture’ machines? But the stern, exercise-should-not-be-fun voice was not to be quieted. With a last longing look I’d walk past. Till the day I succumbed to the lure.

The class was called Latin Groove—international rhythms that changed quickly from one beat to another. It was fast-paced, it was fun, and I moved along, swaying to the music. Till my neighbor tapped me and pointed to my feet. Move, she mouthed. "Huh," befuddled me. I was moving. Ah, she meant "move your legs along with the rest of the body". Whereas the upper body moved in tune with the music, the legs followed their own drummer!

Writing is very much like that. So many disparate elements. Plot, setting, character, language. The successful book is that where all the parts serve the writer’s overarching vision. That vision is the music, and all else the notes. Or to extend the gym metaphor, the various elements are the various parts of the human body that should move as a whole.

Only then the writer will be able to say with Yeats,

"O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?"