Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Aarushi book, contd

Barry was by no account a fan of the book. That she had been invited to the talk—on the insistence of the author himself, a person associated with the event told me—was a welcome sign of willingness to engage with dissent. Or so I thought. What transpired was actually a spectacle...
Not very surprised to read this account of the Aarushi book launch. I wasn't at the event but I have written elsewhere about my reservations about the opening pages of Avirook Sen's book. Shortly after that post went up, I got a call from Sen, and it was a slightly strange conversation - one where he spent a lot of time telling me he respected me as a critic, but didn't at all seem to grasp the main critical point I had tried to make in the piece: that presenting Rajesh Talwar's version of events as objective truth on just page 2 of the book (a stage in a journalistic narrative when the emphasis should be on providing the reader only the undisputed facts) was unbecoming of the sort of book Aarushi was trying to be; it came across as either a big structural goof-up on the part of the author and his editor, or a cynical attempt to manipulate the reader's response. 

Anyway, the conversation became a little too passive-aggressive (at both ends) for my liking, and I didn't think much of Sen's defence that it was okay to write those opening pages as he had done because Rajesh Talwar's version was part of the official record, having been gathered through a narco-test; so I ended it as quickly as I could, having told him I would update the post with a clarification of a relatively minor point. Aarushi is still a serious-minded book in my view, with some good things in it, but it is very far from being impervious to criticism. (As I mentioned in my piece, Joe McGinniss's excellent Fatal Vision was raked over the coals for far less.)

[Here, for the record, is the Ellen Barry book review]

No comments:

Post a Comment