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Thoughts on Manu Joseph and Cheryl Strayed

Thoughts on Manu Joseph and Cheryl Strayed

The first time I gave everything up and decided that I’m now whole-heartedly a member of the Manu Joseph fan club was when I read this wonderful post. Followed by the many wonderful snarky things he has written since then.

Last week I finished reading Joseph’s second book, The illicit happiness of other people (TIHOOP) and the prose is just a fascinating trip down his dark dark brain. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be somebody like him. Someone who sees the honest (although sometimes pessimistic) side of things and manages to spin stories that are funny, yet intelligent (both his books Serious Men and TIHOOP focus largely on NASA scientists, neurosis and philosophy) and observations (about Bombay and South Indian aunties. Topics I am well versed with).  I wonder if it’s exhausting to be like him, editor, writer, novelist, stern stare giver. I mean I have one job and one column to write a week and I’m pretty exhausted. It reminds of what Sheena once called Jerry Pinto; “Tana-tan”.

Manu Joseph’s novels are as poetic as his reporting is sharp. His sentences almost like daggers, never once becoming flowery or using an extra word.

manu

I’m currently reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and all my free time and my commute to work is spent following her through the Pacific Coast Trail. I have been a fan of her work since before I knew who she was and she used to write the anonymous Sugar Says column on The Rumpus.

Wild is the story of her hiking the long trail after her mother’s death and her divorce. There is something about Strayed’s work that feels strangely motivational. I mean I haven’t once thought of actually doing anything like that but the act of doing something so tough and pushing through despite hunger, heat, snow and cuts and bruises is empowering. A lot of articles call her the anti-self help writer. Don’t sit and think about what you want to achieve and how you feel about it, stop thinking and fucking do.

The book is blunt and raw and straightforward. The story of her incredible journey is interspersed with stories from her life that led to this trek itself. Her writing so clean and passionate, I can feel the pain of her blistered feet. It’s sad without being maudlin.

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