The English language and cricket were Britain's two largest colonial legacies in India, says journalist James Astill, but it is the second of these bequests that is the subject of his important and incisive new book, The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption, And the Turbulent Rise of Modern India. Astill is a former bureau chief for the Economist in New Delhi, and he notes the parallels between the country's control of cricket and its dramatic economic rise.
What a loss. That's the thought that kept running through my head as I flagged one inspired rhyme after another in David Rakoff's risky (though hardly risqué) posthumous first novel. Why risky? For starters, Rakoff, who died of cancer last summer, at 47, chose to write this last book in verse — albeit an accessible, delightful iambic tetrameter that is more akin to Dr. Seuss than T.S. Eliot.
I don't remember when I first realized that books could go away, that they could — and did — pass into obscurity or out of print. Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal, AllAbout H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani, Speedboat by Renata Adler, the sublime An Armful of Warm Girl by W.M. Spackman. Each of them, snuffed out. It seemed a scandal. But I vividly recall becoming aware that particular books were prone. To take chances with language or form was to court extinction.