Incendiary (1)

Incendiary
Chris Cleave

I figured I'd follow
Michelle's lead on jotting down mini-reviews of books she read last year. She's already two in so far this year and working on her third most likely, and so am I.

I think the last time I spent so much time "in" book-London was Zadie
Smith's "White Teeth." That may change once I check out Ian McEwan's
"Saturday" or Steven Johnson's "The Ghost Map."

Seeing "Children of Men" twice while reading the book affected how I
followed along with a fictional UK government's response to and
relationship with terror.

Books about cities, as much as about people, done right, send readers off with more questions than answers, and I'm not talking about hunting for travel agents or guidebooks. Said volumes pull you in before capturing the look on your face as they levitate in the air before you, asking you to consider the basis for support, plausibility's invisible strings connecting you to the finished plot on the page. That's what Chris Cleave's done here. (Start as you mean to go on with the extract.)

Spirit of Mumbai

New York, N.Y.: What should be an appropriate response by the average man on the street in Mumbai?

Suketu Mehta: The great thing about Bombay is its open, generous heart. I wrote in my book about the 'hands from the trains':

"If you are late for work in Mumbai and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, don't despair. You can run up to the packed compartments and find many hands unfolding like petals to pull you on board. And while you will probably have to hang on to the door frame with your fingertips, you are still grateful for the empathy of your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle, their shirts drenched with sweat in the badly ventilated compartment. They know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Brahmin or an Untouchable. Come on board, they say. We'll adjust."

I hope – I know – that this spirit will endure. Bombay will adjust. Thank you.

Washington Post's "Indian Bomb Attacks: Analysis"