Books That Inspire 2006

Sunday at the Lodi Gardens
Vinay Dharwadker

Somewhere in his writings, V.S. Naipaul mentions that he reads mostly for the music—not for content but to hear new and intriguing linguistic voices. I suppose I do the same thing, which is why I get so tired of house voices like those of the journalists who write for Time or The Economist. New voices come from many places —India for Rushdie, Nigeria for Okri, Trinidad for Naipaul himself—but it was a shock to find one right here in Norman. Vinay Dharwadker has moved on to Madison, and even while he was here I scolded him for wasting too much time on professor-speak mumbo-jumbo. I told him he should concentrate on the voice of Sunday at the Lodi Gardens, a slim book of poetry that showed me that there really were people right here at OU with a voice of their own. I’m basically hostile to the very idea of inspiration—there’s too much camp meeting in it—but Dharwadker writes beautifully, and even in the first few pages I was thinking “Wow!” That’s as close as I get to inspiration.
Bret Wallach