& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Robert Morgan’s publishing tips for writers

Saturday I attended a workshop on ‘How to approach publishers and get your manuscript noticed’. Robert Morgan, Publisher of BookLand Press, conducted the workshop. I had participated in an earlier workshop that Morgan conducted for the Writers and Editors Network in mid-May. But the time he was allotted was rather short, and he had to rush through his material.

At Saturday’s workshop, held at the picturesque Runnymede public library, Morgan spoke uninterrupted for three hours. He answered a range of questions from the participants that comprised a mix of Canadians and immigrants from different age groups and backgrounds.

Why this sudden interest in book publishing?

There are two reasons. The main one is my fascination for book publishing as a process. My only inheritance from my grandfather Harischandra Bhatt is a collection of books. Among them are manuals on printing and publishing, and on typefaces and fonts. Harischandra had a publishing house – Nalanda Publication– for a brief time and published books on a range of subjects.

The other reason – and I feel oddly reticent admitting to it – is that I’m in the process of writing a novel. Actually, I had begun writing this novel after I had encouraged Richard Rothman to publish his book of short stories (Intelligent Endings). That was many years ago. 

As it happens with most of our creative efforts, life intervenes and interrupts. We leave behind what we love doing to attend to our immediate needs. The needs then multiply and we forget about our writing. 

2009 is a year of revival for me in terms of my reading and writing. That happened primarily because I joined Sheridan College’s journalism program. I was introduced to Canadian literature. This is the first time ever that I'm studying literature. I also started this blog. 

Then a couple of months ago, Joyce Wayne introduced me to Antanas Sileika Artistic Director, Humber School for Writers. I will be meeting him in July for Humber School for Writers’ summer workshop. In preparation for this interaction, I began writing my novel.

I fished out my old manuscript. But I found only some parts of the earlier version interesting. So, I started to build upon a short story that I had entered into a competition. 

In about two months, I have written close to 18,000 words. I don’t know if it is good or bad. What I know is that I’m enjoying the process of writing. I get up early every morning, and then sit for a couple of hours at least to write my book. 

Mostly, I’m rewriting and the pace is extremely slow. But it is so engaging that if I had a choice, I’d only write.

I know a few friends who are writing a book, and I know a few others who should be writing a book. 

I’m reporting a few interesting aspects of Morgan’s presentation that I think writers will find interesting.

  • Do your research on the internet to select the right publisher for your manuscript – target specific publishers who publish your genre.
  • Check submission guidelines – every publisher has specific guidelines.
  • You don’t need a literary agent nowadays – especially if you’re an unpublished author.
  • Don’t send generic cover letters – you’re a writer, and the publisher is a literate person. Write a personal letter.
  • In Canada, publishers receive on an average 800 to 1000 submissions every month. So, don’t expect a prompt response from publishers after you submit your manuscript.
  • A good business relationship is essential between an author and a publisher for the success of any book.

These bullet points are just a glimpse of what Morgan said during his presentation. He conducts these workshops twice a year, and charges a nominal fee from participants. 

The proceeds are donated to Canadian Aid Charity. He also informed the participants about Canadian Aid Charity’s literary contest where the first prize is a trade book publishing contract. Check out the details here. The deadline is September 1, 2009. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Asian Writers

Multiculturalism in Canada is like secularism in India – preached more than practised.

In the Indian context, it means that the government says the minorities (Muslims, Christians, etc) are equal to the Hindus in India. What it really means is that they must fend for themselves.

In Canada, officially, the governments – both federal and provincial – are committed to multiculturalism. Again, as with the minorities in India, the immigrants are to fend for themselves.

That’s not a politically correct thing to say, I know. However, that’s been my experience as an immigrant in Canada in the last ten months that I’ve been here. 

Even if they generally keep quiet about their situation, that is the experience of most of the minorities in India.

But let's get back to being politically correct. Being polite is to be a Canadian.

One of the happy fallouts of the official policy of multiculturalism is the celebratory recognition that each ethnic group receives from the officialdom.

May, for instance, is the Asian heritage month. February is the Black History month (my friend Mike Odongkara guided me to Morgan Freeman’s views on the subject that have been posted on the youtube; take a look).

Earlier this month I attended an interesting event at the North York Central Library (branch of the Toronto Public Library) on New Asian Writing.

Aparita Bhandari, CBC’s Metro Morning What’s Going On columnist, anchored the show. 

She was both vivacious and studied – an essential necessity in any anchor hosting a show full of writers, for an audience that comprises wannabe and published writers.

If she wasn’t both, she would have either bored or embarrassed the audience. By being both, she made the evening seem short.

The show began with a fabulous dance recital first in the Bharat Natyam style and then in Odissi style by the members of the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company

For a brief moment, I didn’t feel I was in Canada, and this is despite the Canadian accent of the young dancer of Indian origin who introduced the dances and the danseuses.

The writers who participated in the event included Kerri Sakamoto, Saleema Nawaz, Devyani Saltzman and Jaspreet Singh

I found Saleema Nawaz and Jaspreet Singh’s readings from their works (Mother Superior: Nawaz and Chef: Singh) evocative because they effortlessly created vivid images in my mind of their characters and the settings.

I may be creating an erroneous impression by singling out one or a couple of writers from the group that participated in the show, because all of them had different experiences to narrate as writers and different stories to tell.

I approached Singh and Nawaz after the show and requested them for an interview for this blog on the craft of writing. 

They said they would get back. They didn’t.

Probably because I’m unknown, anonymous. They are published writers.

Then, a week ago, I attended the Writers and Editors Network (WEN) meeting. 

I wanted to meet Jasmine D’Costa, an immigrant from Mumbai, and a banker-turned-novelist whose Curry is Thicker than Water is making waves across Canada right now and is certainly going to be among awards and prizes. D’Costa is the president of the WEN. 

The breakfast networking session that morning had a star speaker – Robert Morgan, Publisher with BookLand Press. Morgan discussed Publishing Tips for Authors from the Publisher's Perspective.

The endearing part of the meeting was interacting so many aspiring writers, and so many of them of Indian origin – some born in India but raised elsewhere; some whose parents were born in India, had no first-hand experience of India, and yet seemed to love the idea of India. 

That morning the idea of India did appear to be shinning bright – Sonia Gandhi had won the election.

Mybindi.com is holding D’Costa’s book launch on May 27. Click here for details, and attend it to meet a very interesting personality. 

Images: Singh: http://www.ufv.ca/MarCom/UFV_Today/090223.htm

Nawaz: http://www.freehand-books.com/authors/saleema-nawaz.html

D'Costa: http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/images/jasmineanitadcosta.jpg

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Tao of Cricket

Absence of cricket telecast is the worst part of emigration from India. As I write this, Bangalore’s Royal Challengers and Hyderabad’s Deccan Chargers are battling it out in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the Indian Premier League’s final. I missed the live telecast and followed the match and Deccan Chargers’ victory on the internet (The Times of India).

I haven’t read too many books on and about cricket. Cricket writing in India has a great tradition, but it is generally limited to the newspapers. I had the privilege of working with the legendary K. N. Prabhu, the eminent cricket journalist from The Times of India. Prabhu worked at The Daily for a brief period, when I was a reporter at the tabloid. (Note: I was a reporter circa late Cretaceous era). 

Prabhu's fluid and carefree style of writing was carefully cultivated.  A senior journalist at the newspaper was assigned to cover Raj Kapoor’s funeral. He began his report with, “As the maudlin sun turned ochre...” Prabhu walked over to the reporting section and politely told the reporter to stick to the facts. 

Think of the reader; don’t think as a writer, he’d tell us.

Among the more contemporary writers, Ayaz Memon is perhaps the best. Here’s his selection of the best cricket books he’s read.

The one cricket book that stays etched in my mind is Ashish Nandy’s The Tao of Cricket. Nandy, a free thinker, wrote the book in 1989. It’s an original interpretation of the game of cricket in the Indian context. 

The book gained popularity and acclaim because Nandy claimed – tongue firmly in cheek – that cricket was actually an Indian game accidentally discovered by the English.

The book was equally an examination of the process of modernization of the Indian society in the post-colonial period. Nandy never intended the book to be merely about cricket and perhaps wasn’t too happy that it was cricket that made it popular.

Explaining this strange phenomenon, he’s observed, “Precisely because its political analysis is unacceptable and painful The Tao of Cricket over the years has been read more as a cultural history of cricket than as a deviant political psychology of popular culture.” (Quote from India Club website).

A review of the book published in The Hindu is also interesting. 

Once while visiting Strand with an editor of a prominent Marathi daily, I spoke to him about Nandy’s book. The person sitting behind the cash table – perhaps the late Shanbag’s son or some other relative – immediately named the book and Nandy, the year of publication, and the publisher. 

Now, here was a book shop owner who knew books. He didn’t have to run to the nearest computer to check the name of the book and the last name of the author to provide more information to the interested reader.

Unfortunately, old bookshops with their ethos will not survive. Not in Mumbai, not in Toronto. Walking along Spadina Avenue last week, I came across a bookshop that apparently was going out of business and I bought Joseph Conrad’s three novels in one volume for just $2.

Image: http://profpjayindia.blogspot.com/2008/08/interview-with-ashis-nandy.html

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Country, My Life

I’ve been getting up early in the mornings lately. The long hours of daylight in spring and summer in Toronto makes the day fruitful.

Early morning (Saturday) brought good tidings from India.

The BJP-led NDA had conceded defeat in the 15th general elections for the Lok Sabha, and the Congress-led UPA had won, albeit with just a handful of seats short of a simple majority.

I watched the late afternoon (India time) live coverage on NDTV.com, and the erudite Vir Sanghvi was holding forth on Congress’ surprising victory.

One of the news flashes that really gladdened my heart was the BJP’s acceptance that Varun Gandhi’s anti-Muslim comments and the projection of Narendra Modi as the future prime minister hurt the NDA’s prospects.

This will mark the end of an era in Indian politics for at least two stalwarts – L.K. Advani and George Fernandes. Advani can forget his dream of becoming India’s prime minister; Fernandes should forget politics. One can differ with them on their politics, but I don’t think anyone would willingly ignore their contribution to Indian politics.

Just before I immigrated to Canada, I read Advani’s My Country, My Life (and wrote about it in this blog sometime ago). The book was aimed at the English-speaking minority of India that continues to have deep misgivings about Advani and the BJP, and shapes national opinion. To his credit, Advani doesn’t make any concessions about his ideological beliefs that many continue to find unpalatable.

Advani’s propensity to remain in the news for over five decades is probably unparalleled in the ranks of the Indian opposition. To emerge from the sidelines to the forefront and from being a bit player to be a contender for the PM’s post are unquestionably remarkable achievements.

He has constantly reinvented himself, and done that with conviction. My Country, My Life give a good account the different phases of his political career.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he managed to charge the Indian political firmament with his diatribes against the pseudo-secular, left-leaning intellectuals.

The term pseudo-secular gained tremendous currency in the 1990s, and helped – at that stage – correct the Congress’s political imbalance and politics of formulating policies for votes.

However, Advani’s political career will be remembered primarily for the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Although – and this is the strangest aspect of his political personality – he did profess deep shock and grief at the demolition.

In the book, he appears to indicate that the demolition wasn’t the handiwork of the BJP volunteers. He implies that those who participated in the demolition spoke Marathi (and therefore could well have been Shiv Sena members).

Also in the book, Advani unflinchingly defends Modi in unequivocal terms, going to great lengths to explain his differences with the then prime minister and his mentor AB Vajpayee. For that alone he should have been found unfit to be the prime minister of India. People of India, too, share this view; at least for the moment.

However, the new breed of leaders in the BJP that will now replace Advani and the old guard, don’t possess even a modicum of Advani’s sincerity and intellect. Narendra Modi can administer very well; but he can’t administer without malice against a section of population that needs the state’s protection, but gets only systematic pogroms.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother's Day Salute

For someone who did not complete her formal education and dropped out after high school level, Durga is amazingly well read. She would often boast that she had read more Gujarati literature than those who do their masters in Gujarati literature.

However, it isn’t just Gujarati literature. Her interests are eclectic and diverse. She’s equally comfortable reading epic novels from the Saratchandra Chattopadhya’s oeuvre as she’s reading Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room. Earlier this month when I read about French’s death, it reminded me of Durga. I read her copy of The Women’s Room, soon after it was published in the late 1970s.

Durga’s tastes in reading are cultivated, and have little or no bearing to the fact that she was
Meghnad’s wife, not when he was alive, and certainly not now.

She is a polyglot, and can read in more languages than most South Asians, which really is a big deal because South Asians are multilingual.

Many of the books that I read in my youth were from her collection. These included:

A Mother’s Day salute to Durga – a woman who could have been a tremendous actor, but did not because her family needed her more.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is a classic mystery novel. A history professor – Bartholomew Rossi – goes missing. His favourite student, Paul, goes looking for him. 

Paul, the protagonist of the novel, runs a political crisis-management not-for-profit organization. 

Paul’s daughter, who narrates the story, is with him. His wife is apparently dead. The narrator is not named in the novel.

Both the student and the professor have discovered a book that has mysteriously appeared besides them when they were engaged in some historical research. The book is old and blank but for an image of a dragon. 

Following the history professor's disappearance, his illegitimate daughter, Helen, emerges from the depths of East Europe. Expectedly, she teams up with Paul in the search of the professor. 

Eventually Paul and Helen fall in love and marry. Their romance and the hunt for Rossi occurs sometime in the early 1950s.

The protagonist Paul’s daughter, too, tries to follow the dragon’s path. She has also discovered the book with the dragon and papers left by professor Rossi for Paul. This is sometime in the early 1970s

The story proceeds at a fair pace and we journey to Turkey (Istanbul), Romania and Bulgaria with Paul and Helen; and to France with the narrator. 

For most part, the story is a regular whodunit and follows the predictable, formulaic twists and turns that are standard for this genre. Having said that let me also say that it is difficult to produce a page-turner that makes for a compelling reading. Elizabeth Kostova does a remarkable job in this, her debut novel. 

Partly, she's helped by chosing her geography wisely. 

For a large section of the English-reading audience (including yours truly), the history of the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires, and the battles for supremacy that lasted for several centuries between Orthodox Christianity and Islam continues to hold tremendous fascination.

The trail of the disappeared professor leads to Dracula, the mediaeval, “undead” ruler of Transylvania (Vlad the Impaler). Despite Kostova’s valiant attempts, her Dracula does not scare the reader; he’s an erudite scholar. 

I've found Loren D. Estleman’s The Adventures of the Sanguinary Count (Sherlock Holmes versus Dracula) to be far more scary than The Historian

On the other hand, perhaps, Kostova’s intention is not to make her Dracula frightening.

For a debut novel this is brilliant stuff; it earned Kostova $2 million (US); a movie is being made, to be released next year. 

The Historian has been translated in 28 languages. To say that the novel is interesting is to state the obvious. However, it is far too long. I haven’t actually read the book. I heard it on audio CDs. It’s the condensed version of the novel, but even then it’s way too long. 

There are stretches in the novel that could easily be edited. Had that been done the novel would have been substantially more readable (or listenable).

Images: Dracula symbol: http://numbcranium.com/2009/03/24/the-historian-by-elizabeth-kostova/

Elizabeth Kostova & The Historian: Combination of http://www.flickr.com/photos/horselatitudes/2368157238/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtkr/21373285/

Sunday, May 03, 2009

We are on our own

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee...John Donne, Meditation XVII.

The horrors of holocaust have been described in vivid and excruciating details from all possible angles in all possible media. There are millions of stories.  The murder of each of the six million in concentration camps affected their families, relatives and friends. 

There will be millions stories more.

I read Miriam Katin’s memoir We are on our own Sunday afternoon at the Amesbury park where Che was furiously cycling; some neighbourhood boys were playing under-arm cricket; and aging Jamaican men were playing regular cricket with a tennis ball; and oh-by-the-way, I had a green tea flavoured ice cream at Baskin Robbins (wonder why they didn't have this flavour back in India?). 

The ice cream was treat to myself for getting my second byline in the Canadian media.

Spring is turning out to be rather relaxing...

Any way, back to the book...it’s a small, very meaningful book on a gigantic canvas.

It's in the graphic novel format and Katin, who has considerable experience as a graphic designer in New York and Israel, has a minimalist, impressionistic style.

In addition, she sketches most of the memoir in two tones when she is describing her mother’s harrowing escape from Budapest, Hungary.

The memoir is about the escape. Katin is young girl. Far too young to understand the tragedy that has befallen her family or comprehend the enormity of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis on the Jews.  

For the Jews in east Europe, the Nazi defeat was not a complete cessation of torture because Soviet apparatchiks replaced the Nazis – and while they weren’t necessarily all evil, they harboured no dissent.

When they themselves couldn’t control dissent, the Soviets had no qualms riding roughshod and sending in tanks to extinguish any stirrings of liberty. Many Hungarians had to flee to Canada when the Soviet army crushed the Hungarian rebellion in 1956

Katin’s concluding remarks reveal the mature artist and the human being that she really is. She says, “Early in life I absorbed my father’s atheism at home and the secular education in school. My father, however, never denied being a Jew and held pride in ethical and the literary nature of our background. I was always comfortable with this. Living in Hungary and in very secular Israel was no problem. In New York, however, I had to allow for a more conservative approach to Jewish lifestyle. You had to belong and show it. I agreed reluctantly but had great trouble with it.”

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Experiment in reading

Geoff Pevere, the book columnist for Toronto Star, has written about an amazing experiment that I'd like to share with everyone I know. 

Writing in Saturday Star's entertainment section Short stories reveal that less really can be more, he says, "In the best short fiction, style and vision commingle in a way that is unique to the form. This is also one of its most acute pleasures. A couple of years ago, I went on a trip accompanied by three volumes: The Complete Short Stories on Ernest Hemingway, Selected Stories by Alice Munro and The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov. I kept them in rotation, reading one story by each author before picking up the next book. The effect, as a reader, was remarkable. Not only was I able to appreciate the quality of the stories on their own -- and you couldn't ask for three more variously amazing writers -- I was stunned by the consistency of tone I encountered when the rotation would bring me back to the world of a particular writer. And that's the point: it was a world. Or three, really: Munro's a place of quiet, localized desperation; Hemingway's a stark frontier for the testing of existential mettle; Nabokov's a glided hall of distorted delusion and stained grandeur.

"This is the very thing: While each tale lived and breathed and haunted as a distinct entity on its own, it also took on an altogether richer life when considered in the context of other stories by the same author. This was the vitality provided by the overriding authority of the author's voice."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Rabindranath Tagore

May 7 is Rabindranath Tagore's birth anniversary. Tagore's literature got him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. However, his journalistic pieces don't often get the attention they deserve. This piece looks at Tagore the journalist

N. C. Chatterjee (father of former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee), in a tribute to Tagore has said, "What Goethe was to Germany, what Wordsworth was to England, what Walt Whitman was to America, that Tagore is to India."

However, it is often the case that the world, while assessing Rabindranth Tagore, appreciates his greatness as a poet-philosopher, but generally neglects the other, equally important, facets of Tagore's colourful personality. Nirad Chaudhuri's comment is rather apt in this context: "It is the easiest thing to become engrossed in the poet at the expense of the man. That would be a grievous error because - to put the most obvious objection first - Tagore is many things as good or nearly as good as a great poet."

While the creative writing of Tagore has moulded the cultural sensibilities of post-independence India, his journalistic writings, dealing with the burning issues of the day, helped mobilize public opinion and formulated the social concerns of the masses subjugated under the colonial rule.

These writings bring out the various facets of Tagore's personality. Tagore as a journalist was equally, if not more, effective as was Tagore the poet, novelist or essayist.

Since the time his first poem appeared in 1875 (when he was just 13), Tagore continued to contribute to various newspapers and journals. And during his 80-year life span, he was actively associated with seven journals which he edited at different times.

Before he reached his twenties, he was already a major contributor to Bharati (edited by his brother Dwijendranath Tagore). These contributions included not only poems, essays and literary criticisms, notably one on Michael Madhusudan Dutt's Meghnadbadha Kabya, but also articles on such exotic topics as 'English manners', 'The Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Saxon literature'.

After his first visit to London (in 1878), he wrote a series of letters recording his impressions of England and the English people. These were serialized in Bharati, with an editor's footnote. Evidently, the sensitive mind of young Tagore could not tolerate the racial bigotry of the English and this found clear expression in his writings. Ten years later, these letters were published in the book Diary of a Traveller.

Tagore's anger at his experiences in in Britian couldn't be hidden. He wrote, "The pride of unrestrained power affects the very foundation of the national character. It sullies the purity of that love of freedom on which alone can national glory be found. That is why one hears the Englishman at home saying that the Englishman in India is a race apart; the reason for it is not damaged liver but also to certain other more elevated human organs."

Tagore's acerbic pen ruffled many feathers. Of these, the most famous involved Bankim Chandra. He entered into a protracted debate on Hinduism with Bankim Chandra. The protracted debate ended in the great novelist writing a most generous letter of appreciation to Tagore for his polemical abilities.

In 1890, along with his cousin Sudhindranath, Tagore brought out a new Bengali monthly magazine - Sadhana. The magazine lasted for five years and folded up in 1895, after the birth of Tagore's last son, which made it impossible for him to devote enough time for editorial responsibilities. 

Image from http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1913/tagore-bio.html
Self-portrait: http://www.tagorecentre.org.uk/graphics/articles_ranaldnewson2.jpg

If you are interested in reading the complete article click here

Great Expectations

In Toronto, spring is a pleasant combination of rain and sunshine. But it is also a state of mind.  Spring is an abrupt awakening from the winter hibernation. 

Winter lingers on till about early April and then life begins to stir as the snow melts. It brings on a sudden burst in public activities.

One of the events that I’m looking forward to is the meeting of the Dickens Fellowship, Toronto.  

I read about it late last year, but couldn’t find time to attend the monthly meeting held the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Northern District branch of the Toronto Public Library.

I don’t think there is a greater novelist in English than Charles Dickens. There are many who are good, and in every generation, the novel in English language gets a preeminent star. Salman Rushdie is the star for my generation – the generation that became avid followers of literature in English in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even for that generation Dickens remains unsurpassed. He lives on in the works of different novelists whose works bear a Dickensian influence.

Among the recent books that I’ve read, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance come to my mind. Dickens’ influence is palpable on Mistry’s writing, including the tendency to be God. The novelist as God is a Dickensian trait that most readers today would find unacceptable and irritating. It worked well in Dickens’ novels, and it works in Mistry’s novel, too.

Mistry subjects his characters Ishwar and Om to unrelenting cruelty. It is no doubt an accurate enumeration of the circumstances prevailing in large parts of India during the Emergency. But the reader finds no respite from the series of misfortunes that befall these two.

I was just not able to come to terms with the horrors that the uncle-nephew duo are put through by Mistry. I almost wanted to tell the novelist to stop it.

If you have read Dickens, you realize how true this would be of any of his novels. Dickens’ portrayal of the grim realities of the industrial revolution’s excesses in Britain led to far-reaching changes in the labour laws. His works acted as a catalyst for a transformation for a better and just mooring of the society.

I haven’t read everything that Dickens wrote. But from what I’ve read (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations) I’d definitely chose Great Expectations as the best.

The orphan Pip, the abandoned Miss Havisham and the beautiful Estella are characters that stay with you forever.  Dickens creates magic in the old, decaying mansion that becomes the stage for the three to meet and Havisham’s schemes to make Pip fall in love with Estella and then to ensure that it remains unrequited. Pip continues to tolerate Miss Havisham under the mistaken belief that she’s the one who is sponsoring his education and stay in London. But the benefactor turns out to be the criminal (I forget his name) whom Pip had given food just once when he (the former) was on the run from the police.

The story and the narration has all the trappings of a television soap opera. That is what Great Expectations really was – a serialised novel published every week and (needless to say) lapped up by an eager audience.

Perhaps it was because I read the book when I was in my late teens, or perhaps because I remained tongue-tied when it came to expressing my love to the girl whom I believed I loved madly and wouldn’t be able to live without, my identification with Pip  was complete. 

Pip survives those pangs of love and loneliness, so did I, and so does everyone else... they leave bitter-sweet memories to be cherished on a spring morning.