Sunday, December 17, 2006
Books - Book Review - That Summer in Paris - Abha Dawesar
That Summer in Paris by Abha Dawesar
This is a review copy that I received from Nan A Talese – Doubleday Company of New York, NY.
I was very grateful to receive this autographed copy of this novel by Dawesar. Life was still boring in New Orleans, and reading was a lifeline for me.
The novel is about writing, and the lives of novelists. Prem Rustum is 75 years old and a Nobel Prize winner for literature. He is getting more and more reflective about his life, and some decisions he has made in the past. He felt that every time that he wrote a novel, his fiction had threatened to “balloon and swallow him whole. Writing was not just therapy, self expression, creation for the heck of it,…it was a perpetual trap set up by Prem, to trap himself. Each book held a little piece of him that he had to cut off and preserve in the work of art. And while Prem had hoped fervently that the pieces of his soul were regenerative, there was no proof yet of their having grown back.”
Another main character in the novel is Maya, a student who has won a fellowship in Paris so she could write in peace. She was more familiar with Pascal Boutin’s “..clever, insightful, fluid..” works but she also liked Prem’s “..words form prophets or gods. They felt as if they were made with lava that flowed straight out of his heart onto the pages, and then when you read them, they liquefied and entered from your pupils into your soul.”
Dawesar gives a modern twist to the novel on how Maya and Prem meet; this is the first time that I have read something like this in a serious novel. Prem is learning how to use the internet and is shown a personals column. Maya writes a singles-ad, looking for someone who can be her Prem, in terms of feelings that she gathers from his works. When Prem answers, she doesn’t think it’s him at first, but when she meets him, she is convinced.
I enjoyed reading how different writers approached their craft. Maya felt insecure next to Prem and Boutin, but I guess she didn’t realize that she was still young and finding her voice. Prem and Boutin still had a lot to offer in their writing, but they both realized that time was catching up with them.
Even though I love to read about writing, I really didn’t care about any of the characters. All of them are self-centered. Sometimes they don’t realize how their actions can hurt other people. I can’t believe how the people who were hurt are so forgiving; I would be fuming and be angry for a very long time and ignore the person if I ever saw them again.
The editors should have caught this omission and made Dawesar write a bit about it; the elder writers referred to themselves as the three Ps (Prem Rustum, Pascal Boutin, and Pedro). Even though Pedro is dead, and both authors miss him, there is no real explanation as to why Pedro was so important to both of them and what he wrote. It seemed like a reference to the Three Tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras), but I was left in the dark about this one.
Labels: Abha Dawesar