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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Ithaca by David Davidar

Author: Glory Sasikala

Moving the others aside and dislocating it from its place and holding a book in one's hand is like holding a horcrux that holds someone's soul.  There may be no Harry Potters or Voldemorts, but a soul is a soul - there's a feeling of awe as it throbs in your hand.

Clearing the clutter both in my schedule and my mind, I settle down to read the book. I like the diagonality of the title.  Turn to the back to read about the author and am a little doubtful.  He would do that, I suppose?  There are just a couple of morsels on that table.  Agreeably they are the tastiest bits, but I've known people with less to serve who have laid out more dishes.  I'm curious too.  Wouldn't he want the future generation to know more about him?  Wasn't he denying them some?

Anyways, I'm on to the first chapter.  So, it's that kind of a book where I have to be someone else, adapt their thought processes for a while, see things from their point of view.  I'm now a tiny character too made out of an ink blob, I'm inside Zach Thomas's head, and I look up at the author from the page.  "I'm not sure I want to do this.  I mean, this guy is depressed and messed up. Julia's left him, and he does not have a bestseller to sell. I'm jet lagged from all his traveling, though I love the places he's visiting and his view of them.  And I have a hangover from his drinking.  Besides he likes latte and brown eyes and chestnut hair, while I... 

No answer, and I continue reading...

Human beings are alike to a point.  There's a Morty in every boss - they're the ones who encourage you to speak out and then bite you for doing so.  They're the preparatory class to cynicism.  There's a Julia in every woman who cannot live upto their parent's expectation but do have an alternate calling of their own.  There's a little dangerous boy with a shotgun in every guy, who will regress for tenderness and comfort to his childhood days.  Being a South Indian, I'm fascinated by the use of the term 'aruval' as an English word.  Fascinated at the joy with which the English language pockets words from other languages like a kangaroo.  Refreshingly in contrast with some other rigid languages.

I take time off now and again to look up at the author, to share a view.  This is your world, a world that hinges on the creative cells of a single writer?  All those meetings and discussions and traveling for the one book that will sell? That's Mackenna's Gold for ya!  And I thought it was the writers who whipped themselves with the sheer drudgery that comes after the sweep of creativity - of writing out synopsis and covering letters and the waiting and the rejection slips.  That's like being punished for who you are - but this...this is just as bad. Human spirit is a strange thing. 

A dancing policeman (smile). Sand painting (I like the concept. It wouldn't work with my friend who lost her son though. She believes in reincarnation and a meeting point), marlin moments (love it!). 

"There must be a reason why even writers who have uploaded their work to popular online publishing sites like Wattpad rejoice when their work is picked up by a regular publisher." (touché!)

Frankfurt fair reminds me of a story of a Japanese farmer who cut off all the other chrysanthemums to leave only the biggest and best one for the King's eye, so he would not be distracted by lesser beauty. 

But its when Zach meets Ramesh (the book lover) that I paused thoughtfully. There's a change in my perspective as a reader.  I understand now why I must be Zach and not Morty the glamorous thrower of waistcoats or the efficient Gabrijela.  These things, these launches, these meetings, these places, these people, the food, this traveling, this depression, these were all mere fireflies, sparks that hid, oh! so successfully the magnificent fire and passion that burned within a quiet man's chest.  So deep is his love for books. But so underplayed is his own role, so much that of an observer that one gets thrown totally out of focus.

It wasn't a horcrux that I held. It was the whole fiery, passionate soul! One that would wait for centuries if need be, rolling out the dice again and again patiently to win a game ("You will understand, by then, these Ithacas; what they mean").

A roll of dice and everything was a mess.  A roll of dice and a Seppi book was his.  Roll again and it was all platonic again.  A perfect score and he was in the game.  But the dice rolled out of the board some place...and the game was over.  He had lost.  So much had happened that the silence was deafening.  It was all so scary and dangerous that the board was closed and thrown into the sand.

He was back in Shevaroy Hills to lick his wounds and to repair.

"Sometimes though, because of a sudden storm or landslide or accident, I would find the road blocked, and I would have to patiently find another route to complete my rounds."

Somewhere, deep within him, the drums had started rolling again - or had they ever stopped?  Their beat was rhythmic, slightly distant now but distinct and growing by the moment.  A promise of a game of Jumanji again....all in good time.

About The Reviewer:

Glory Sasikala: Where breathing, writing, living and loving lose their personal identity and present as one, I come from that land… sometimes letting my pen lead me, sometimes leading my pen… it’s a Pied Piper’s tune all the way!


  1. I liked this review. Intrigued enough to check out the book.

  2. Thank you so much, Raamesh. That's the whole point of writing a review. :)