Wednesday, 6 November 2013

How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Look, unless you're writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron.

Tone? Check. Clever idea? Check. Plot? Nope. Character? Kind of...confusing.

Actually, in regard to clever idea or phrase, this line may well be, but original, it is not. We can hardly blame any writer nowadays for being unoriginal, either in a statement here or there or in a plot here or there; after all, everything that can be dreamed up has been dreamed up. Art today is the art of regurgitation.The best an artist can do is say, "Hey, it might not have been mine going down but that pavement pizza that came up is."

Note: My library copy had a previous borrower stop reading for the night on page two, as evidenced from the folded page. I guess, for someone, all that wit was too much to take in one go. The next folded page is page ten, then page eleven, then page nineteen. I assume not all by the same person, but revealing nevertheless, more so about the reader than the author in this case, as the pages are short.

First thing said:

"Don't leave us here."

Despite that first thing said, the writing is quite engaging and I'm being beguiled to read on because of the content (how disconnected ideas flow nicely from one to the other) and style. As in this paragraph on page four:

This is a self-help book. It's to show you how to get filthy rich.... And to do that it has to find you, huddled, shivering, on the packed earth under your mother's cot.... Your anguish is the anguish of a boy whose chocolate has been thrown away, whose remote controls are out of batteries, whose scooter is busted, whose new sneakers have been stolen. This is all the more remarkable since you've never in your life seen any of these things.

This is positive preambling, as it entertains with ulterior motives that go beyond a mere plug.

Verdict: Pass

Theodore Moracht

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