I think last month on a sudden book shopping spree with the Meister went to Walden and bought a couple of Maughm. Have finished reading Cakes & Ales (the book by which Maughm wanted to be remembered) & The Moon & Sixpence. Loved Cakes & Ales but I am mesmerized by The Moon & Sixpence. Its one of the best books I have read. The narrative is explicitly simple that you fall in love with it. The book is very Maughm with his matter of fact narration & his sardonic sentences. His wit is unabashed & his style un-compared. The Moon & Sixpence is a fragmentary documentation inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin (leading post impressionist painter) who was believed to have left his wife & children on a mere whim that he wanted to paint, at a time when he knew hardly how to hold a paint brush. The way Maughm describes the protagonist Charles Strickland, drawing from Paul Gauguin's personality, is exquisite & grand. He lingers on the most annoying of Gauguin's characteristics but without any hint of moral or social judgement (atleast I could not find any) and yet makes the readers like him. He intervenes as the author when he has something more than Strickland to talk about, his notes, his observations, or even to mention why he chose a particular way of telling the facts he had about Ganguin. His narrative has a very objective POV, but at the same time we know he is empathizing and understanding Gauguin's peculiar ways.
I have read a couple more documented biographies, even Marquez's 'Clandestine in Chile' written on similar lines, but Maugham style in The Moon & Sixpence is un-believable. I am completely in love with the book & would recommend it to anyone without blinking once. Some excerpts from the book below which might not show all that I wrote above but these are lines which struck home...
"There is no cruelty greater than a woman's to a man who loves her & whom she does not love; she has no kindness then, no tolerance even, she has only an insane irritation."
There were a lot more that I wanted to give here from the book, but being in office without the book makes it a little difficult. Would do it later when I re-read the book at leisure & mark some lines to share.
My manager beckons us for a team-meeting now...will continue later.
P.S.- The flow if broken can't come back after some exciting news at work-front. Back from the meeting - It was just announced that I would be travelling to the US next month for 5-6 weeks :) what fun!!!