Updated: Nov 23, 2020
A recent prompt for an SSOA Writing of the Week exercise came from an Indian novel, Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate 2010), about a Mumbai public letter-writer, Mohan:
Mohan sighed and thought of his earlier routine, which had often included a wander through the bookstalls between Fountain and Churchgate. This ... had been the way he'd educated himself. There was a special magic that operated in the books he found; the thing he needed frequently came along without his having to look for it. His mind went covertly back to his other existence, the one in his chair, at home in the evenings, under the naked bulb. He sometimes felt he left himself there, unseen, while an automated version of him went about the daily routine. Those people and emotions, the ones from the pages he turned, were always so clearly present. And there was the feeling of following in the footsteps of other readers, those who'd scribbled in the margins; he'd many times come close to doing the same.
SSOA writing group members' responses to the excerpt:
THE READING-WRITING BOND
When I was eighteen and living in South Africa, I had a huge fight with my mother who informed me she 'never wanted to see me again'. I moved into the YWCA, and was feeling a tad lonely and lost, when I found a pile of old books in a box. I lay on my bed in the room I shared with three others and started reading a paperback. This led me to not leave my bed until I had finished the fascinating story. I couldn't put down the book, Clochemerle written by a French author, Gabriel Chevallier. It lifted my spirit.
What a wonderful introduction to the written word that has lasted a lifetime! The descriptions of the French countryside and relationships between people in the village left me feeling inspired and wanting to read more. Jennifer Neil
AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE DERVLA MURPHY