ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Blocked In by Words

Just as writers suffer from writer’s block, readers might well be burdened by “reader’s block” as they struggle between reading for pleasure and reading for purpose.

I have never been gifted enough to suffer from writer’s block. That was a privilege bestowed upon greater, more creative minds who often writhe under the burden of an imagination that escapes a perfect articulation in black and white. After a prolonged battle within, finally comes the epiphanic moment of creative finesse. Almost all great writers around the world have experienced this cycle of temporary sterility in their life. Ernest Hemingway, in his difficult days, would sit “in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.” Every writer had his/her unique ways of dealing with this crisis.  But I was wondering about the readers: is there anything called “reader’s block”?

In the last four months I have purchased more than 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction. I have this habit of reading non-fiction and fiction simultaneously. When non-fictions become too heavy or dreary to continue, fictions offer a refreshing retreat; and when fictions appear to take me  to a different world far from the surrounding  reality, a moderate dose of non-fiction sets me firmly back in the real world. So, when Michael Ondaatje’s English Patient rec­ounts his days with the Bedouins, William Dalrymple’s Last Mughal is preparing for his final battle against the British. In another instance, when Siddhartha Mukherjee explains the malignant multiplication of cancer cells in his The Emperor of All Maladies, Salman Rushdie’s Doctor Aziz (in Midnight’s Children) falls in love just seeing his beloved in parts through a perforated sheet.

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