I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Prakash's excessive use of cultural stereotypes (xenophobia is the term the Book Bench uses, which is harsh, but not inaccurate), the quaintness of his 'discoveries' (they actually try to teach writing! imagine that!) or just the overall fuddy-duddiness of his point of view. Nor am I going to comment on the irony of bemoaning the 'American' obsession with publication when the last decade has seen a virtually unchecked proliferation of writers on the Indian publishing scene, the vast majority of whom could frankly do with some lessons in basic writing. And as for Mr. Prakash's chances of ever producing great literature - let's not even go there.
No, what I'm going to focus on, for the moment is the following claim:
You are told that your first chapter, first page, first sentence should be such so as to captivate the reader in two minutes. That is the test. It is another matter that Dostoevsky or James Joyce would have flunked this test and would never have got publishedWould Joyce and / or Dostoevsky really have failed this test? I don't know about you, but I would certainly want to keep reading a book if it opened like this:
"Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face."
"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."
or this, for that matter:
"I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man."
and if you think about it, it's hard to imagine a book more amenable to a two-minute pitch than Ulysses:
Q: So, young man, what's your book about?
A: Well, it's an epic of the everyday: a re-imagining of the Odyssey in which I use the central themes and motifs from Homer's work to tell the story of an ordinary Dublin day from a cross-section of perspectives, using internal monologues and stream-of-consciousness techniques to explore the thoughts, perceptions and memories of ordinary people. The overall structure of the book emulates that of the Odyssey, but every chapter is an exercise in a distinctive style or form - so for instance, one chapter parodies romance novels, another uses a question-and-answer form, a third is written as a play.
See what I mean?
Or, for that matter, how's this for an engaging one-line summary:
My novel tells the story of a young man who murders an elderly moneylender and is then terrified that he won't be punished for his crime, because this would imply that there really is no God.