I follow this blog-in-Facebook-updates called LABYRINTHS. Its picture-stories trigger off ideas, feelings and on occasion, memories. Today’s story is titled The IVORY BOOK CLUB and is a conversation between two people about the quality of literature. It felt like an instant frame capture from my own life and here’s what happened in the real story.
Years ago, I inadvertently fell into a tussle with someone (let’s call her LMN) about Chetan Bhagat. She kept insisting that his writing was ‘honest’ while I reasoned that this was no measure of quality. It was quite literally a good 15 minutes of,
“But Bhagat is so honest, yaar!”
“That’s not all there is to a good book.”
“No, but I mean, it feels like he really lived through that.”
“Honesty? I am not going to debate that. But that’s not a measure of how well it’s written.”
“It’s straight from the heart. So honest.”
And then, this conversation was liberally mansplained and hijacked by the person who introduced us – my abusive now ex who was her friend. Among the many things he said were, “Pick on someone your own size” and something he called ‘The Principle of LMN’. In the months to follow, this incident would be alluded to often, by him or by me. Of note, the two also had a creepy relationship (2am phone calls asking if we had broken up because a photo had been deleted, secret messages that got shared with me ‘by mistake’).
All in all, I think it’s fair to say raging debates about culture, language and such things are never quite about the subjects on hand themselves.