India, September 8 , 2011 – The Telegraph India
NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, GOES THE SAYING. BUT WHAT IF THE COVER SAYS “SEX”? T2 PICKS UP THREE BOOKS WITH THE THREE-LETTERED WORD ON THE COVER FOR A READING ROMP
What: Khushwant Singh on Women, Sex, Love and Lust, compiled and edited by Ashok Chopra.
Published by: Hay House India, (first published in 2002, revised and updated in 2011).
Price: Rs 299.
What do you expect when a book has love, sex and lust in its title and is written by a “dirty old man, a drunkard and a womaniser”, by his own admission?
This anthology of articles and essays by Khushwant Singh, written over some 50 years by this 97-year-old, lives up to its name, and the reputation of its author. The book is all about titillation. Before you lustful lot rush to the nearest bookstore, read on. Khushwant Singh titillates the mind — with his wicked wit, his astute observations and above all, his irreverence.
Sample this: In the chapter Woman’s Breasts, Singh writes, “… it has also to be conceded that when it comes to what is vulgarly known as sex appeal, it is the bosom, the middle or the buttocks that rouse the male libido. Of these three items the pornographer and the voyeur will vote for the pudenda or the rear; the aesthete be he poet, painter or a man of letters, will vote for the bosom.”
And later: “We Indians are familiar with comparisons of bosoms with melons and mangoes. We also have allusions to their restlessness: a popular Punjabi folk song sings of them as jangli kabootar — wild pigeons.”
On eve-teasing, The Telegraph columnist says: “There is yet another class of female, usually unattractive, who makes up stories of men making passes at them. This kind of Eve is deadlier than any Adam.”
For the more scandalous comments, Singh relies on quotes. Extensively researched, the book makes some shocking revelations. “‘People ask me how many children I have,’ said the champion boxer Mohammad Ali, ‘and I say I have one son and seven mistakes.’”
And here’s what Khushwant Singh wishes to do with Shobhaa De. “That is Shobhaa De for you. You can’t do without her. You have to read whatever she writes. Then your hands itch to slap her fat bottom the same way K.P.S. Gill slapped Rupan Deol Bajaj’s posterior.”
What: Love Sex Death & Words.
By: John Sutherland and Stephen Fender.
Published by: Icon Books UK, distributed by Penguin India.
Price: Rs 499.
The title on the ornate blue cover has four words — “Love”, “Sex”, “Death” and “Words”, with the second word typed out in the boldest letters. A closer look reveals a tagline: Surprising tales from a year in literature.
But this is no ordinary year. In one of the most unique projects in book writing or compiling, scholars John Sutherland and Stephen Fender present an account of events in the world of literature from January 1 to December 31. So, while the entry for January 1 talks about the copyright on Peter Pan that ran out on January 1, 1988, January 5 takes the reader back 163 years, to the day Alexandre Dumas fought a duel in 1825, over a sarcastic remark about his dandy dress!
The preface (fittingly titled July 2, after the date in 2010 when the author duo sat down to write it), explains the rationale behind the book: “For our convenience we package literature into syllabuses, curricula, canons, genres, Dewey Decimal Sectors. But literature is vast, growing (ever faster) and inherently miscellaneous. This book, using a calendrical frame, is a tribute to that miscellaneity. Anything can happen anywhere anytime. As can ‘nothing’…”
The 366 entries — yes, there’s one for February 29, too, dated 1728 — are as varied as the publication of the first English novel (Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, April 25, 1719) to an account of the 1666 Great Fire of London (September 2) to the fiery Nobel acceptance video speech of an ailing Harold Pinter calling for Bush and Blair to be arraigned for the war on Iraq (December 7, 2005).
The entries are as delightful for their wealth of information as for their brevity. Add to that the cutting wit of the authors. The book is a must for any lover of literature, history, language or for a bibliophile. And a gold mine for a quizzer. But does the book live up to its title?
The chapter March 23 quotes Philip Larkin’s
“Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) —
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’
What: Sex on the Moon.
By: Ben Mezrich.
Published by: William Heinemann, Random House
Price: Rs 550.
How many times have you heard a guy promise his girl the moon? This is the true story of a man who made that promise to his girlfriend and actually managed to deliver.
Thad Roberts was a temporary researcher at NASA when, by a stroke of luck or twist of fate, he was allowed to handle lunar rock samples collected in every single Apollo mission, including samples brought back by hand by the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
In no time, Thad, who dreamed of becoming the first man on Mars one day, started a mental game — what if he managed to steal some of the samples from NASA’s almost impregnable lab? Thus begins a gripping tale about “the most audacious heist in history”, involving an item that is so precious that it is illegal to even possess it, let alone sell or buy.
Written by the author of The Accidental Billionaires on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, on which is based the Oscar winning The Social Network, Sex on the Moon reads like a thriller. It also provides a rare peek into NASA’s fascinating world of space shuttles and simulated moon walks, meteorites and the possibility of life on Mars. Even as you lose yourself in Thad’s tantalising plan, this racy read will leave you breathless with questions — will the FBI get the better of this bright scientist with near photographic memory? Will his accomplices chicken out? Will NASA’s famed security set-up be so easy to breach? Will Thad become a millionaire?
But does the book justify the title? Well, while there are too many women in tank tops, there’s very little sex in the book. But yes, there’s sex on the moon; you’ll just have to read the book to find out how!