The Calligrapher – Edward Docx

My letters looked beautiful, no doubt, but writing when you’re upset is like writing when you’re drunk: it feels great at the time (profound, even) and yet when you read it back in the morning – my God. Even at the most sober of times, words are hardly to be trusted – put two or three of them together and they immediately start revolting, conspiring unintended meanings here, fermenting duplicitous nuances there, and firing off in the wrong directions as and when they please. Of course, what I would really have liked to do was write her something so true, so moving, so elegant, so witty, so insightful, so fin, so direct and so oblique that she could not help but surrender – a poem, perhaps, or a whole cycle entitled ‘Songs and Sonnets’. In the end, though, I found that I could not rely on words at all beyond carrying out the most basic tasks. So I settled for three lines – the postscript from my first effort…..

I picked this book up from the British Library in the same manner (and for the same reasons) that i’ve usually found books and music since class 11…because it looked interesting and i was always ready for experimentation. the book looked alluring (for not just the cover) since it was woven around a collection of poems by John Donne. But it has turned out to be way better than anything I expected from it.

I shall not go into the details of the story. Or the story at all, for that matter. I shall instead focus on how the book goes about seducing (the best word I came across after careful thought) the reader. Spoken from the male protagonist’s point of view, the book is witty, candid, thoughtful, dark and heartwarming at the same times. Throughout the narrative, the author keeps on making spot-on observations on life, love, relationships, London, and the universe in general. The storyline is thoughtfully conceived, well woven and flawlessly executed. It never lacks pace, and has its tastefully sprinkled share of twists and turns. and then there is the one which hits you, which would have been the most brilliant climax possible, but the author is still holding something up his sleeve. you (specially if you’re well versed with your o’henry and saki) expect it, anticipate it for page after page….and the author carefully sidesteps your efforts to out think him. and then when you’re least expexting it. WHAM! the book finishes off with a grand flourish, leaving you gasping for your breath.

i gobbled this book up (ok, that’s not new)…and it was some of the most wicked (in a most complimentary sense) storytelling i’ve seen in quite a while. get it if you can, and read it.



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