The Two Faces of the Reader

One of the questions that authors are frequently asked in book launches and interviews is what motivated them to take up writing; it is also a commonplace amongst writers to anticipate such a question and come up with an answer through what they do best: writing. George Orwell, Elie Weisel, Joan Didion have all written essays and articles deliberating on this question ‘Why I Write?’ To get our blog underway, we decided to turn the question to the significant other of writers: readers. We asked two of our guest members to pen down a few lines on ‘Why I Read?’ While each of them chose very different standpoints to explore the act of reading, what shines through both of their pieces is the cleaving of the self that can be affected by reading. A book allows its reader to have two selves, two faces, two identities. As we enter yet another January, a month named after the two faced god Janus (ultimately from the Latin for door: ianua), let us stand face to face with our own doppelgangers by picking up a book. Wish you all a very happy new year, 2018.

Shubhabrata Banerjee is a journalist and a book reviewer with a leading Bengali daily. He is also a published poet.


In this liquid world of robots and freak
on books, above all else, I should be laconic.
Words, words, words fill my misfit room
Americas, motherland, Europe — all in a happy commune.
I keep a Vargas Llosa beside a Marquez,
a Byron against Keats
ignoring tales of fracas,
remember what happened
in nineteen seventy six?
Books read me, often I review them,
a baffling term, sure to be hemmed
in by factors petty, kick against the pricks
thus I sew and stich my dubious critique
A reader? Not I, just a toddler
seeking fire in the rain
O rectos and versos, save me from all disdain.

Tanmoy Biswas loves books and boys. A teacher by profession, he has also published stories and poems in reputed magazines.

It is all about a regret. If I were a woman (and I’d surely have been a buxom bombie;  2018-01-01-03-06-40-567slender cyanide; every man’s dream hourglass honeycomb) with amorous, lecherous, hotshot lovers and a gentleman husband and a family and lots of kids, I’d surely be happy enough with much worthier pursuits than poring over printed pages. But because I’m quite a waste and so is my life, an emptiness gathers up, rolling on and on deep inside my belly and head (what in books they call heart). And I need to fill that void with tainted dreams woven in words. Hence I read. And critics and scholars would never know this! How books can become homes to pariahs cold and famished in heart. How books can say what no human ever did, ‘you’re not alone.’

Title Art : Trinamoy Das (left), Prapti Roy (right)
Sketches within the body of the text: Suman Mukherjee

*Our next post will be published on 13th January, Saturday. It will feature a reading report on a specific book.

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