As noted critic Scupin Richard once said, ‘There are types and types of writers! Some are, by their own choice, always a step ahead, wanting us to follow them through the course of their mighty pages; some prefer to be at our back all the time, giving us leads and cues, prompts and high signs, to infer and to decipher the meaning all by ourselves down the pages; there are yet others who take pleasure in ambling up a leisurely stroll along with us, holding our hands, and guiding us through their pages in such gentle ways, with an involvement beyond measure!’
One such writer of the last order is Bill Bryson!
Indeed, just one cursory look at his range and his sweep makes you stand in awe of him!
Be it on travel writing, be it on the English language, be it on science, be it on memoirs, be it on philosophy, he’s got them all on him in abundant measure!
An engaging style is sure bound to be an endearing style wherein the writer resolves to take you on an awesomyyy ‘haiyahh’ kinda journey ;-) along with him/her, through his/her ideations, ruminations and reflections that’s been transferred with such enormous care and an abundance of love, onto reams and reams of paper white!
How could we ever thank Bill for making science accessible to us the lay in every way, through his wonderfully enticing book on science, titled, A Short History of Nearly Everything, published in 2003! One of the hot-sellers even today, this book takes credit for being one among the ‘mainline few’ that have made science sound so simple and so cool for all and sundry!
However the signpost thread for this post hinges on Bill’s commemorative volume to the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society of Science, titled, Seeing Further, a book which has quite unfortunately, not seen quite those stunning, raving reviews as have his other titles!
The Guardian and The Telegraph in especial, have been so bold and brazen in their bashing! ;-( Well, they’ve just unabashedly ripped apart the book as a huge ‘disappointment’, and a ‘missed opportunity’!
Ladies and gentlemen, they may be right! At the same time they may be equally wrong too!
Bryson ain’t the reason! Nayyy!
Rather, the liaison is!
Of course, liaisoning with an astounding array of scholars drawn from different disciplines - to each their quiddities and their quirks – is, should I say, a sheer labour of love in the interests of science, ‘so to say’! (‘so to say’ is Bill’s favourite refrain, again, by the way!)
One cannot but quite appreciate the eclectic range of the contributors to this commemorative number – from Margaret Atwood to Maggie Gee on the literary arena, to Holmes and Gleick on the historians’ realm, to Dawkins and Jones on the scientific sphere, yes! you’ve got them all here by the number!
One particular essay on this commemorative volume so endeared itself to me!
And nooo! Not because Atwood happens to be one of my die-hard favourites, but because Atwood is here in a dynamic, new avatar, exploring the claims behind the ‘mad scientist’ archetype!
Or should I personally quip, on an aside, Atwood here is, on a light-lighter-lightest vein, making (or poking) fun of this sinister archetype! ‘Figures of fun’ as she calls ‘em!!!
Moreover, the beauty of this feature lies in its appeal to all and sundry across times and climes!
A lively, engaging feel there is, to this narrative!
How beautifully she engaged us all right from the opening line, ‘In the late 1950s, when I was a university student!’ And yes, from thence on, chances are, you won’t bat an eyelid even as the pages flap and flutter all by themselves, and even as you are winged and hooked to a different environ altogether, and even as you are completely unperturbed by the wing’d chariot gently flitting you by and by!!!
Oh so! Let’s thank Bill yet again, for giving us all such an engaging essay from such an endearing writer of our times! So to say! ;-)