Today, I bought The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis. When I handed the Rs. 450 it cost over at the counter, it was a significant moment for me because for the last three years, after my reading habit had fallen off but before I had realized that it had, I was rejecting books that “wouldn’t appeal to the man I wanted to become”.
I wouldn’t read books that had strong religious elements (because I wanted to be an atheist), that hadn’t good reviews (because I wanted to spend time “well”), that attended to morals and values I considered irrelevant, that hosted plots drawing upon cultural memories that were simply American or simply European but surely not global, etc. I would find the smallest of excuses to avoid masterpieces.
At the same time, I would read other books – especially non-fiction and works of fantasy fiction. To this day, I don’t know whence that part of me arose that judged literary agency before it was agent, but I do know it turned me into this pontificator who thought he’d read enough books to start judging others without having to read them. A part of me has liked to think nobody can do that. And by buying a copy of The Last Temptation (and intending to read it), I think I am out of mine.
Of course, I’m also assuming the solution is something so simple…