Book Review: On Love & Sex
On Love & Sex seems to be one of the umpteen attempts to profit from the literary powerhouse that was Khushwant Singh. Over the past few years I have seen several books get published by various publishers, all somehow seeking to package/ repackage snatches of Mr. Singh’s writing from here or there. The last essay/ short story in the book was, for example, in no manner associated with either love or sex and one feels that the publishers or Khushwant Singh’s estate were looking desperately for some copy to fill a few extra pages. And also since the Khushwant Singh name itself sells so well, not much effort has been made with the cover – which is a simple paint brush rendition of the title (though it did remind me of Milan Kundera’s book covers).
Even so, it is virtually impossible to go wrong with Khushwant Singh – his charming, open and honest writing style which at all times manages ever so easily to cast all inhibitions aside. The opening part of the book – consisting of Khushwant’s early travels, his education in England, his nomadic lifestyle and his many friends & girlfriends – is eminently readable. Additionally, Singh is quite open about sex – not choosing to use heavy metaphor laden prose to define and/ or justify love making – and that makes the content all the more easy to read, for its charming simplicity.
What follows the initial autobiographical sexual adventures of Khushwant section, however, are a few essays on sex or love which though still a breezy read and capable of providing interesting insights into the thought process of Singh, make the book a somewhat jarring read.
There were two short stories somewhere towards the end – which made for interesting reading. The historical fiction story about a Hindu couple almost eight hundred years ago was amongst the most interesting parts of the book for me. The opening parts and Khushwant Singh’s breezy, uninhibited writing style works really well for the book. At 160 pages, the book makes for a quick 2 hour airport read.
But the flow of the book is too jarring and at times, random. The book might have been better off without a few rather dated essays and the last story which had nothing to do with the title of the book.
In conclusion, what I like to say about Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton chronicles applies here as well:
If you want to read an Indian read, there are better books out there.
If you want to read a Khushwant Singh, there are better books out there.
Even so, On Love & Sex is a decent read from the pen of India’s literary powerhouse.
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