We started the BYOB Party talking about whether the drives within us to succeed are to be harnessed and overcome or fulfilled. Ayush moved on to the realm of romance. A friend challenged him to write a humorous love story, and during his research he realized that most love stories were badly written, displaying sexism and a very black and white unrealistic understanding of characters. Except for one book which was hidden at the end of a shelf.
Bitter Honeymoon and Other Stories by Alberto Moravia was one such book. The book talks about the need for physical intimacy for love to happen and also how this very same intimacy can lead to problems in love. “I enjoyed the intelligent exposition of love,” Ayush said.
To understand more about writing humor, Ayush picked up a book called Monarch in the Glen by Compton Mackenzie, a British novelist who wrote over a hundred novels, plays, and biographies. The story chronicles the evils of capitalism and revolves around Chester Royde, an American millionaire who goes to Scotland and an ensuing war declared on a bunch of hikers. The hilarious laugh riot has been adapted into a TV series as well.
Prerana is no fan of classics but she took a chance with the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and she did not regret it. The author explores the notion of the double, a popular theme in the nineteenth century (take Dostoevsky’s The Double and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Stevenson explored the theme of the Victorian gentleman’s split personality. Stevenson speaks about the life of a doctor in those times and the ills of the society that drove him into personality disorder. Someone in the group reminisced that the story resembled that of the Incredible Hulk and mentioned the Lucifer effect, a psychological term that explains how good people turn evil. You might want to know more about William Brodie who inspired this tale.
Priya spoke about an interesting book called Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anticaste Intellectuals by Gail Omvedt. This book features versions of the Indian utopia. It was a bhakti radical called Ravidas, a tanner, who envisioned a place called Begumpura, a casteless city. Omvedt brings to light progressive voices from medieval India like Chokhamela, Janabai, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, the Kartabhajas, Phule, Iyothee Thass, Pandita Ramabai, Periyar and Ambedkar.
Priya returned to the love story theme when she mentioned a chronological tale called The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The story revolves around a strange relationship where the husband is able to travel through time since he suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically adjusts itself, causing him to go to the past or the future. You can watch Niffenegger speak about her book in interviews Part 1 and Part 2.
More books in Part 3 next week.