My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.
"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times
"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine
"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll
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8 September 2005
It's sitting by the overcoat, the second shelf, the note she wrote, that I can't bring myself to throw away
(The Cookieness herself, before my post, to mollify you for getting bored of Reader Appreciation Week!)
When I was littler it was a lot easier. I periodically fell in love with characters in books. Remember that fantastic bit in Daddy Long Legs where he goes, "Dear Judy, did you not guess that I was your Daddy Long Legs?" I swooned over that part. I inhaled the essences of Mr. Rochester and Mr. Darcy. I wanted them to love me, ME, not that insipid Jane or that rather stick-up-her-ass Elizabeth. Even younger than that, when I read Little House On The Prarie, I wanted to be friends with Laura. I wanted to call my parents Pa and Ma and have "good" venison and eat sugar straight from maple trees and own a calico dress. Ramona Quimby was my pal, so were the girls in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
And then, oh, I read The Catcher In The Rye and of course, like every other woman before me, fell madly and irrevocably in love with Holden Caulfield. I wanted to be the one exhaling smoke "not wolfing it like other women" and I wanted to be that stupid chick, what was her name, Sally, who he calls when he's drunk.
But I never thought in terms of authors. Salinger was a name you know, before he was a godhead. They all became eventual godheads, especially Louisa May Alcott. I visited her home in Boston and since I was the youngest person there who had read the books (I was 11) the guide took me took the attic where she wrote and I ran my fingers over the table and felt a shiver go down my spine. In London (and I'm totally not just doing this post so I can show off about where I've travelled, but still, pretty cool aren't I? :)) I visited Chaucer's grave and the same shiver. But to be fair, it also came when I saw James Douglas Morisson's in Paris (aha--just sneaked that one by you!).
Anyway, as I was saying, I worshipped writers. Everyone who had a real live book in real live bookstores. Everyone with a cryptic dedication. I almost pissed in my pants with excitement the first time I met Bulbul Sharma. My Sainted Aunts! Dude, and the author right. there. in. front. of. me!
I learnt in college how to take the magic away from writers by decoding their sentences. Still the writers I decoded were mostly dead. And I could still breathe Adrienne Rich's perfume if I bent low enough over my books. I still spoke stormily of Lysistrata and its relevance in today's world. I was a very Serious Young Person.
Then I started working and then I started to cover booklaunches and the business of being a writer and THEN it all changed. Writers were, well, normal people. They didn't come with halos. Some like Sir Vidia, a man known to me only by green library spines, were rather strange. Some were wonderful. But they weren't idols.
I miss being like that--all worshipful. I miss holding the printed word in such reverence. I miss believing everything I read in newspapers. And most of all I miss my godheads. I bet even if I met Louisa May herself, I'd be like, okay, big deal.
I've ruined everything, haven't I, by growing up?