I started reading again and the joy is long lasting, I mean the reading of a book stays with you like the fragrance of a favorite perfume or like Wordsworth so famously said in his poem, ‘The Daffodils’, ‘For oft when on my couch I lie, in solemn or in pensive mood, they dance upon my inward eye, a host of golden daffodils’.
I had listened to a speech by Toastmaster Tony V. Francis and had thought of him as being witty. As a fellow Keralite, I did strike up a conversation with him at the IIMB Toastmasters Meet. But that was sometime ago.
When I heard about his book hitting the market I was curious but since lethargy is or was my prime state of mind at that time, I did not think of reading it. When I chanced upon the book in the college library I picked it up, remembering the author and my accidental running into him at a TM session.
As I first took the book in my hand and browsed through, I wondered what was the purpose of all those autographs?Wasn’t it frivolous? As I started reading though, I was hooked. I was seriously in awe of the narrator as he took me through the formative years of his protagonist, his meeting with Vinny and the whole connection of St. Xaviers with the family of Vinny.
The Addy who played the dark moor, Othello on stage, the native, the nigger and his love for the lead lady, Alice, with her pale skin and tragic life gives the school boy romance of Tony an unexpected twist.The tragic end to the life of the actress Esther Leach, Alice’s mother, the accidental killing of Alice’s step brother add layers of interesting love, action, drama and emotions to the story.
Considering what happens in the end, it makes sense that the ‘sunnys’ believed in the rumor of the ghosted green room beneath their stage!
I liked the idea of the camera sort of panning into the Alice and her son, viewing St.Xaviers, the renovated version of the elite theater of Calcutta, San Souci of Park Street, Purono Kolkatta as the Google tells me.
I liked the flipping back and forth into time. I thought the writer was already imagining a film being made of his book.His cinematic movement of the time frame cannot be accidental.
I fell in love with Vinny, the fierce independent mute girl who falls for a talkative, adventurous chap. I liked the way each of Tony’s friends have been built albeit the fact that they are all ‘sunnys’ in the book, with characteristics and qualities, that could make this novel, if made into a film, a sort of a prequel to ‘The Three Idiots’. A lot of detailing has gone into each character and since the time I read ‘The Masters’ or later the ‘Harry Potter’ when was school life so beautifully built into a story, I wonder! I would recommend reading The Autograph Seeker for a curious mixture of love, revenge, a tinge of history and a whole lot of innocence!