Growing up in small town in India in the 70’s/80’s, Readers Digest and Sputnik and the occasional National Geographic were our windows to the world. The world of literature was illuminated for me by the feature –“Paatha Keratalu” written by Malathi Chandoor. It was published in the montly magazine called Swathi. She passed away in 2013, writing till the end.
Paatha Keratalu – means old waves. I am not sure of the significance of the title – maybe it was because the books and the authors that were reviewed were not contemporary but the classics – in a way termed as old books.
I will not bore you again with the limited access etc etc. But to be introduced to the world books from across the globe at your door step was amazing. The books ranged from Gone with the Wind to Mother to Love in the time of Cholera. Her writing style was lucid, crisp with enough details about the book and the author to when your appetite. Years later, when I started reading, I would go by the reviews of Malathi Chandoor to pick up a book. I can easily say that I owe my reading habit to her. Thank you Mrs Malathi Chandoor for inspiring me to be a voracious reader.
She would also write a little about the author in addition to the books. Maxim Gorky, Margaret Mitchell and Gabriel Marquez became familiar names to many of my generation.
The impact of her reviews on me was so much that even after reading the book, the first thing that comes to my mind, on recollection of the book is her review. This is true especially for “Gone with the wind”. I was in high school, the typical teenage years when I read her review. The way she describes about the scene where Scarlett O’Hara makes her green gown from curtains is still vivid in my mind. And nothing to beat the “damn” of Rhett Butler. Not that they were not well written in the book, but her review of the same was absolutely perfection.
Another review that stands out in my memory was that of “Mother” by Maxim Gorky. I cried buckets reading her review ,and till this day, I did not read the original. I did/do not want to read the book. I have such good memories of reading her column about the book that I do not want to change by reading the book. Maybe they will get strengthened, I am not sure, but it is one book that I dare not take any chances. It is my tribute to Malathi Chandoor, where her review of the book is the final impression.