M M Kaye is dead. I still remember reading The Far Pavilions with a blend of incredulity (could anything have been more baroque, more overwritten?) and guilty delight (the bodiceripper had not found India lacking). Her India, despite the Post’s generous remarks, consisted of: maharajahs (often evil, scheming and ugly), princesses (usually beautiful, even when evil and scheming), British officers (the Empire at its best and most alluring), retainers (Indian, faithful, disposable) and the scenery (insert burble here).Kaye, who was born in India, venerated Kipling, wrote a series of pretty mediocre ‘Death in (fill in Exotic Location)’mystery stories and inspired several wannabe Kayes.
Rebecca Ryman, author of Olivia and Jai and The Veil of Illusion, was one of them–this was apparently the pseudonym adopted by a gently nurtured woman (the Kaye style is catching) who lived in Calcutta until her death a few months ago.
If you’re really missing M M Kaye, go see the Far Pavilions Musical, which sounds every bit as syrupy as the original book. Excuse me if I pass. I have an aversion to puking in the aisles.
Wanted: Gameplan for author upgrading from ‘Popular’ to ‘High Literary’. The rest is silence, says Liz Hoggard in The Guardian.
“We drove, and Walcott pointed out the handmade signs dotting the hamlets we passed through. Many of the signs, advertising drink in English and French (‘Boissons Coca-Cola!’), had perfectly rendered black faces, some with red lips, floating around the calligraphy.
Walcott said, ‘Look at the beauty of that. And then you think of someone like Vidia’–Naipaul–‘saying that there is no culture down here. That we are primitive. That we make nothing. Crap! Well, there it is. Take a look.'” The New Yorker hangs out with the poet of the Caribbean.
No. 15 Usher’s Island has been restored; I can imagine Miss Kate, Miss Julia, Lily, the caretaker’s daughter and Mary Jane joining their hands together in ghostly applause.
Eating People is (tick one): a) right b) wrong c) the shortest route to a book deal. Johnny America speculates on The Diary of Armin Meiwes. If anyone comes across the Armin Cookbook, don’t bother sending the Babu the link; he has a sensitive stomach.