Book of the week: A Handbook For My Lover by Rosalyn D’Mello
An erotic ode to love, desire and language
Cliffsnotes: A Handbook for My Lover by Rosalyn D’Mello is an erotic non-fiction memoir that chronicles six years of her love affair with a much older man that seems fated to end. Told in the form of long, lyrical letters to her lover (who does not read) – the author lays bare her desires, insecurities, sexual appetite and history. This archive is equally a love letter to food and language that often seem to be for her, as thrilling as sex.
Get a taste: D’Mello lays down her only law – excess. She wants every pleasure of the flesh and she won’t apologise for it.
“I will not be moderate.
I want everything from life or nothing at all.
I want everything!
I want my garden of earthly delights with all the seven deadly sins for company.
No, I am not meek or humble, pure in heart or selfless. And I don’t want paradise with its happy endings and countless beginnings.
I want a feast of sin and flesh.
I want this world, not the next.”
Author 101: Thirty-year-old D’Mello, a reputed art journalist and columnist, has previously compiled and edited The Zubaan Anthology of Erotic Writing. The idea for the book came to her after a phone conversation with her lover just a few months into their long-distance relationship – when he jealously asks how many lovers she’s had before him. D’Mello says she had to quit her job in the marketing and sales department of a publishing house and take up freelance work for the six years she spent writing her book because no publisher would give her an advance.
Fun fact: D’Mello wrote to legendary literary agent David Godwin on a whim after multiple Indian publishers politely turned down her book for its somewhat vague premise. Her proposal letter, she told Scroll, was “a formal mess”. Not according to Godwin evidently, who got back immediately asking to know more about her and less than a week later, agreed to represent her.
Similar reads: The Private Life of Mrs Sharma by Ratika Kapur; Panty by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (translated by Arunava Sinha)
A Handbook for My Lover (HarperCollins India) is out now