Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 12433
date submitted 06.10.2011
date updated 25.10.2013
genres: Biography, Travel, Harper True Life...
classification: moderate
incomplete

Rupee Millionaires

Frank Kusy

Want to make a million? Be careful what you wish for...

 

At 35, I was a struggling travel writer with five guides in print but not enough money to pay the rent. Then I met the Colonel in India.

"You should try business, Frank!" said the Colonel. "It would be a most spiritual experience!"

Spiritual or not, he was right. Five years on, I was the foremost wholesaler of hippy-Hindi glad rags in the UK. But at what cost? Along the way, I lost my hair, my house, my girlfriend, my Buddhist principles, and very nearly my sanity.

The problem was my business partner, Spud. A borderline psycho with just one aim in mind – to become a rupee millionaire. With a million, he believed, people would forget he was a small fat plumber from Peckham and women would flock to his cash and shag him senseless.

But then, as he devolved into craziness and his dreams of world domination began to fall apart, he found a new reason for living.

He wanted me dead.

 
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HarperCollins Wrote

‘Rupee Millionaires’ is fast-paced true story of one man’s journey into the heart of India and the world of business.

I enjoyed reading this manuscript. In its current condition, the work has a lot of strengths: your story, your tone, your contrast of the exoticism of India with the sometimes equally manic insanity of London’s markets. However, I will say from the outset that, to me, this reads as a very early draft of a strong manuscript – not the first draft, perhaps, but that shouldn’t make it the last. In places, it seems that we’re reading a ‘brain dump’ of thoughts, rather than a refined and considered account of your experiences. It is only when you achieve the latter with consistency that you’ll find the audience your story deserves. I hope the comments in this review will help you to do this, as I see great potential in the nuts and bolts of your memoir.

You are clearly capable of writing vivid and enticing portraits of India – your past as a travel writer shines through, and we see India as if we are there first hand. Your description of Pushkar (‘a small jewel in the naval of India, all ablaze with its colourful mix of pilgrims, hippies, merchants and holy men, etc.’) is brilliant. However, much of the story of ‘Rupee Millionaires’ is vague and at times, weak. There is too much ‘and then we did this, and then we travelled there’; not enough time is dedicated to stopping, taking in the surroundings, and really describing your interactions. Where you do flesh out the stories, we see a much more engaging portrait of life. For example, your description of the bracelet incident, and how you flogged your wares to a group of Americans works well.

The very early chapters feel rushed. I’d suggest padding out some of the details you presently skip over – particularly details of your early life. We need to establish your character more. I get a clear picture of India, but not a clear picture of you. This is, after all, your story: an account of you and your experiences – we need to care about who are you, and what has brought you to where you are. Use these early passages to set the scene. Delve deeper into some of your childhood stories. There is a great opportunity here, also, to enhance the contrast between life as a boy growing up in East London, and life as an adult exploring the Continent.

Equally, it is not just the representation of your childhood that could be further developed, but smaller elements of your story. For instance, you mention the ‘enterprise allowance scheme’ – are we assumed, as readers, to have prior knowledge of this? Should we know if this was easy to get? Did it apply to market ventures only?

To make space for this, I would recommend cutting down on some pieces of the plot which become repetitive – within the early chapters, you have gone back and forth to India more times than I could be bothered to count. Each trip had its own pattern: you travel there, you encounter business difficulties that either you overcome or you seek an alternative opportunity, you return believing you will be millionaires, only to discover that something unexpected has happened. Some of these ventures could be summarized much more succinctly, allowing you space to go into more detail – and more firsthand ‘showing’ – where it is important. As it is, I’m not convinced that we will break out of this pattern if I go on to complete the book, which is making me disinclined to continue. You need not have told us so much so fast – slow down. Set the scene. Set up the players who are going to be key to your narrative (more on this below). Once I’m engaged, I’m unlikely to give up.

Other than these revisions, I’d suggest casting an editing eye over what you have. Part of this fine-tuning should focus on chronology and pace. At times, you jump around a lot and this can become puzzling and jarring. It also means you need to be particularly careful with your tenses, which become confused in places. For instance, when you’re telling us about a past discussion with the Colonel, to whom you then recount another past experience, getting your tenses right is crucial. For instance, using ‘had been’ rather than ‘was stuck on a traffic island’ is much clearer, and helps the reader differentiate between the various plotlines. Similarly, when you first enter into your partnership with Spud, there are some contradictions – one minute, you’re about to return to India on his bidding, then in the next paragraph you’re one week into your affiliation. Inconsistencies such as this could be easily eradicated with a second round of editing.

My final point is on characterisation, which could be brilliant, but needs a little work. Many of the figures who play a role in ‘Rupee Millionaires’ could potentially be more memorable and engaging. For example, the Colonel. From the first chapter, we discover that it is the Colonel who has set you on the path from journalist to businessman. But who is the colonel? How did you meet him? We learn more later about his curious character – which reminded me a little of the Drunken Major from Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’ – but some background was needed earlier on. More problematic is the representation of Spuds. This is a crucial figure, but it takes a long time for us to get an image of him. The passages in which you introduce his ex-wife, are particularly odd. I’m not convinced that after one brief meeting – however ‘open’ this woman may be – you would call her to seek her advice on your partnership with her former husband.

One of the few characters I really felt to be three-dimensional was Ram. We learn of his back story immediately – how you met him, his situation in the town – and we begin to get a picture of his nature as he becomes more prominent in the narrative. Consider all your characters – can you make them feel this tangible? Is it possible that there are too many? Perhaps those you introduce have too few scenes. The Russians in particular have a slightly pantomime villain feel to them. Tell us more about how they do business; why they are a threat.

As I said, I think you paint a wonderful image of India, but I also felt there to be certain aspects skated over in these early chapters. In particular, the true poverty of the country; this is referenced briefly in the opening chapter, and then ignored. Clearly this is something that concerns you – so why omit it from the rest of your descriptions? Similarly, you talk a little about religion, referring to your own beliefs, but never really explore them. This also seems to be a missed opportunity. Don’t be afraid to tackle serious issues. I believe that they will be well balanced by the more jovial asides you include, such as the story about the red-bottomed monkey making off with your friend Ram’s crutches; anecdotes which vividly reflect the ‘other worldness’ of India.

I hope the above doesn’t seem too critical. I really did enjoy this manuscript. I believe there is a market for ‘Rupee Millionaires’ – it is an interesting story, particularly given today’s financial climate. It is also a vivid portrait of a fascinating country, and would serve as a great introduction to the culture. I hope you will consider some of these points – I would be very happy to read a new draft.

Wobbly Wellies wrote 973 days ago

I WANT TO OWN A COPY OF THIS BOOK IN PRINT.

‘Rupees’ is not your run-of-the-mill memoir. What sets it apart is its un-me-ness, its vast and vivid potpourri of characters and the places it takes one. Place descriptions are spare, yet somehow I felt myself there. The writing is nimble and often witty.

I had moments of laughing out loud. Just two small examples, ‘...how can anybody be offended by the death of an onion?’ and ‘...a troll-like figure with a woolly sock on his head.’ Spud-the-possessed is so joyously entertaining I can’t imagine the story without him.

It would be gratifying to see this book Number One on the Editor’s Desk. Writing of this calibre and with this much tickle deserves it.

EMDelaney wrote 933 days ago

Rupee Millionaires is the most well-depicted, best-written personal memoir on Authonomy. Proof positive that craft, creativity and polish produce a professional, marketable result.

E M Delaney

Connie King wrote 890 days ago

Rupee Millionaires.
What a spell-binding, intriguing and very funny biography. So intelligently-written and concise. I have never had the pleasure of visiting India, but thanks to you, Joe I've been transported there in my mind, where I could capture the essence of heat and and blindingly dangerous Eval Knieval-like taxi drivers in rickshaws. I could see the splendid, colourful array of saris worn by some of the most beautiful women in the world. You captured the softness of the material blowing in a gentle breeze, the spices and aromas filling the air of the over populated crowded markets, the machinations of the wheelers and dealers, the brilliance of the beautiful jewellery. This entertained me immensely and that was down to you, the author, making your characters leap off the pages. Your writing style is easy and professional to the last letter. It amused me but the chapter about your mum was moving - I felt your pain, as it tugged at my heartstrings. After I read this I came to the conclusion, it's on the ED desk because one day when published it's going to be among the best books money can buy. Good luck for the future. Connie x
Sinners and Shadows.

Fifi Bergere wrote 1029 days ago

This book is a fabulous rollercoaster of a ride!

A fascinating introduction to the murky, competitive side of running London street market stalls and the dog eat dog (or should that be the vegetarian eat vegetarian) world of import/export from India.

As well as Joe's trademark hilarious way of seeing the world, which will have you crying with laughter, there are very tender moments in this book when Joe talks about his wife and mother which are deeply moving.

And thuggish Spud lurks in the background, like the pantomime baddy - spoiling all the fun and making you want to hiss. The only problem is this is no pantomime - this is Joe's real life!

Unputdownable page turner!

I just found this book and I'm quite interested in it. Because essentially it's about ME.

Back in 1990 I met the Author in a small market in London and we became business partners. Yes I am the person he has characterized as Spud. A very loose characterization indeed. Frank says this is almost the truth. That's not a fair representation. Braveheart was almost the story of William Wallace but its was closer to the truth than this.

The story is quite confusing to me even though I was there. Firstly there is a lot of "artistic license" with the time frame. Events are manipulated to facilitate the story he wants to project and ancedotal stories are dropped in as fillers, meaning that there is very little development in the story besides Frank's fictionalized relationship with me. I met him in 1990 and we were partners from January 1991- October 1994

In his narrative we are partners from our first meeting in 1990 until 1st September 1996. He mentions coming to India after we parted and there was a plague in Gujerat. This did happen after right after we split but in history records the plague in Surat in 1994. However if we split in 1994 he could not depict a drawn out decent into drug addiction on my part. Someone mentioned that the passage where he meets my wife didn't sound very realistic as she seemed to be too open with someone she just met. In fact my wife worked with us until we separated in 1993. That whole episode is just character assassination. No STD's no dishonerable discharge from the army... probably the 2 most offensive lies in the book.

Leaving aside the truth v fiction, I saw drafts of this story 20 years ago and they were far far better than this. It seems like in order to make stories snappy he has lost a lot of the absurdity of situations or simply dropped in a funny story losing the context and much of the effect.

Spud

I've just come across this book and it will probably make an interesting read.

See back in 1990 I was in business with the author for a few years and I'm clearly the model for his caricature "Spud". Of course this is a work of fiction and I am just a regular guy and not anything like the cartoon he created.
Someone said they didn't think his description of his meeting with my ex-wife was very well written. The fact is I divorced in 1993, 3 years after my wife and I both worked with Mr Kusy, one of a number of embellishments in the chapter of the book I read for free on Amason. I've also never been to prison or ever been arrested.

His depiction of me as a womanizer is very strange too as the only woman in my life through the entire time I knew him was my wife. Frank does have an art in picking up on random joking comments made on long tiresome bus journeys and spinning them into the core of his fictional character though. I remember "Stock is Power" and consoling him after his girlfriend left him, literally the week before my wife left me, with the humorous comment, never mind you'll soon have enough money to make women irresistible to you. This is the same girlfriend Anita, that I was apparently insanely jealous of despite still being happily married at the time. Actually if I recall correctly, right after I made that comment to him I went home and discovered that my wife had walked out on me!

Rather than leaving Frank in fear for his life I have spent the last 20 years suffering from depression and recovering from a number of suicide attempts after I bought him out of our partnership, at his request and for the price he asked, only to find he used the money to set himself up in competition despite assuring me that he would not do so.

So as well as ruining my heath, ruining me financially and almost losing the roof over my head ... I still owe the taxman £60,000 as a result of his failure to pay his tax bill which was levied against me after he transferred all his assets to his wife's name and pleaded poverty, I now have to suffer another indignation through my depiction in this work of fiction dressed up as "true to life".

I did think of him as a great friend I trusted him more than anyone before and certainly since and the experience left me broken.

Enjoy the book but be aware that behind it lies a very different story.

evermoore wrote 266 days ago

Grins...Oh, Joe...you are a natural with the written word. You've fleshed out Spud sooo well...that I think you have rocks in your head over partnering with him! (lol) The antics that go on behind the scenes...they still have me smiling. Stock is power, indeed. I'll buy stock in youuuuuuuuuuuuu, sir...I love when you share your mind with me this way.

Now then...where's the rest?? Hmmmm??

((Hugs))

evermoore wrote 267 days ago

Awww...another glimpse of your mom...I love the woman that so loved you. I can jusssst imagine her lecturing you about your life, but jumping in the front line to see that you did well in spite of her reservations. And I think there's more of her in you now, then you realize.

Those bracelets...my my my...you arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre good! (winks)

Will be back this evening, Pappa J...((hugs)) to you and your lovely wife!

evermoore wrote 267 days ago

Wooooooooo hoooooooooo!!! ((Hugs))

I know ya can't admit such a thing, but I alllllllllllso know you've done this jussssssst for me. (winks)

Okay..on to the second...with a biiiiiiig ass smile. (lol)

Kaychristina wrote 287 days ago

Joe, here's a belated review of this extraordinary work --

The author of this work appears to have the kind of voice most fiction writers would, metaphorically speaking, kill for. The story is extraordinary, too. A life and a half, and it'll draw readers in from the very beginning.

It's a true-life thriller like no other I've ever read.

It has comedy in spades, to boot. And the author's friend and nightmare in one, called 'Spud'.

Joe the author, a man with a market stall in London selling silks from India, and his bulldog heavy of a partner who became his partner by, more or less, saving his life from a couple of Russian rivals, Spud. That's how it starts...
I suspect it's not the last we see of the Russians.

But we learn, too, of Joe's incrdible childhood, his sainted Mother, his schooling at the hands of Priests, how he got himself to University and beyond. Then he found Buddhism - and his freedom within it. He also meets his mentor, Dick Causton. And this man gives him India.

India gave Joe his writing career - travel guides of the country he'd grown to love. Not enough for his Mother...
The story gives us an amazing account of Joe's early times in India, the people he knew, such as Colonel Fateh Singh - introduced by "Bubbles", the Maharajah of Jodhpur. Upon being asked "And sir, what is your purpose in life?" during another extraordinary encounter, Joe thinks it's Buddhism, to find enlightenment, etc., but the Colonel sets him on the rocky path of business, assuring him it'll be a 'spiritual experience'.

Joe's trading takes off, and he finds a place called Pushkar that went from hippy paradise to business hub. And it's Joe's favorite place.

Joe's telling of his business growth is laugh-out-loud funny, and even Gordon Gekko would be proud to have him as a friend.
Not so Spud, it seems, although he's an ideal partner in every other sense - at first.

It's Spud whose dream is to be a Rupee Millionaire... when a million rupees equalled about £20,000 (c.$30,000).
We also meet Spud's ex-wife, a woman called Lou, Spud's double 'but with a yellow wig'.
Joe begins to realize what he's dealing with.

Spud, a complex character for sure, and Joe's descriptions of him are fascinating. As are Lou's.

Seeing India again through the eyes of Spud is a story all by itself.

No travel writer - except this author - has ever written such an account of life in India's raw.

I worked there many years' ago, and reading this, I am reliving it - seeing it as though for the first time. The vibrant life, the noise, the color, and the poor animals, and even they are given a humorous slant amid some real poignancy.

We, and Spud, also meet the Colonel again. During the Gulf War, and the Colonel is in war-mode with his ex-army buddies. And perhaps the madness for Joe begins... especially as we also meet the source of the Colonel's market supplies, an 'overweight hobbit' called Gordhan and his son, Girish. Spud is impressed. Spud can also 'smell the money' when they arrive in Joe's haven of Pushkar. So do those Russians. And an Italian temptress... This is so evil it's hilarious to behold.

Spud's madness is so clever it's frightening as it unravels.
His plan for becoming a Rupee millionaire evolves through Francs and old Deutschmarks to *actual millionaires*. Ingenious.

An adventure into 'the desert' is like an acid trip... and back in Pushkar, a reality of sorts in an American friend called George *Bush*. What Joe has to tell George about Spud and the Russians, only earns George's respect. Perhaps he's as mad as Spud, right along with his *friend* Amy of the Grateful Dead. Aka Alien hippies in Joe's view.

Amy should have a book and a movie all to herself, by herself, of herself. She's one helluva girl.

There's also a poignant piece in the middle of Amy's shenanigans, her wanting [perhaps] to help with a women's development programme in a remote village - and finding it full of western intellectuals, all theory but no practical interest, no understanding of such people's real needs.

And so Amy's high ideals career over into "Geoooorge! I wanna PALACE! A palace with ELEPHANTS in it!" This after George and Joe shove her on a bus to see Amber Palace near Jaipur.
More 'bhang' cakes later, and she's back on the slum trail, never to be seen again. A pity, as Joe says.

Spud and George meet... and we meet Ram, a handicapped local we find Joe has known a while, and who he set up in business with three camels a few years' earlier. Joe is a prince, I think.

Ram's unfortunate encounter with a large, red-bottomed monkey and the waiter having to coax him down from the rooftop with five rupees' worth of bananas, would have the Pythons paying him for his story. I haven't stopped laughing about it, and Spud would just give anything to be the *Monkey King of the Rooftops*... his being able to see the advantages with all the female monkeys.

Ram-ji, his beard in his quest to be *Mister Desert*, and his fame at being picked out by Patrick Swayze for a bit part in *City of Joy*, is just priceless.

And in spite of all this, everything life has thrown at him, the polio and all, Joe could see the beautiful, inner man, and we can see it too.

Ram's faith in Brahma, the story he tells Joe centred around Pushkar itself, is wonderful. As Joe says after visiting the Savitri Temple and Brahma temple, a surreal kind of pilgrimage - affecting these two vastly different men forever.

Disasters follow back in London, where Joe buys his own house, and saves the situation (brought on by the recession), yet again. But Spud's plans, given rocket-fuel by Joe's ingenuity, are getting bigger... wholesale.

Glastonbury, and a turning-point... a man called Dwell might well be enough to send anyone stir-crazy... or as vegetarian as that poor cat... and Spud is no exception. Far from it, and far out on drugs, to boot. He IS a rupee millionaire now, of course, but it hasn't brought him happiness - i.e. no women. And a planned trip back to India - *to see a country where people could be happy with no money - just to restore his perspective* (beautifully put, if I may say so), is postponed. Yes, as Joe says, he should have questioned his motives - bad mistake.

Even George 'Bush', who [hurrah!] we meet again, thinks, through his fug of bizarre new apparel, that Joe should 'separate' from Spud.
In the midst of this, we meet Nick and Anna from Vancouver, the grass roots of India being their forte, and lovable for it - as well as genuinely funny. Others congregate, all in India for similar reasons, all fascinating in their ways.

A kind of magical mystery tour follows - a camel safari with our friend, Ram, and those 'desert tarts', the gypsy dancers. Putting the gods to bed, as Ram says, must surely be the most beautiful idea ever thought of, and the ultimate experience of India.

Spud... is out of control.
And he doesn't like it that Joe has a girlfriend - Anita, who just happens to be Gary Oldman's ex. Anita, and twin cats who Gary says are head-cases like her. Charming... but... sigh... he was right. About Anita. And how could she leave those cats like that??
Thank God they had Joe. And a happier Spud...
But oh, at what cost.
Plague and pestolence back in India, but that doesn't deter our Joe - not after what he's endured to be *free* of Spud, so he thinks. At least Spud can understand Joe's *reason* - his mother's illness, his wish to spend time with her, take her to India.

In the meantime, we meet George again, something of a constant guru, methinks. And guru beyond all gurus, there is Madge, surely sent to Joe from Above.

This whole story is beyond fascinating. I think stories will form out of these stories, and when recounted by Indian storytellers, grow with the telling of Mister Joe-ji.

What a life he's had, and there's a lot more left in him.

Wishing love, happiness and a truck-load of success to you and Madge, from Kay xx

Kevin Bergeron wrote 608 days ago

I've so far read the first three chapters. The energy of the events and their narration jumped right out at me. The experiences, descriptions and characters, the way you write it, it's just very lively, or animated, something like that; and it's very appealing, infectious, and likable. A few things that I particularly liked: The guy who asked "What is your purpose?" Spud emerging from under his table like a spider. His description of you as a crocodile.

So far this is thoroughly engaging.

Cathy Hardy wrote 612 days ago

Love it!! poor Madge! How grumpy you were to begin with, although understandable. It was nice to read how two very different people could compromise and find harmony; you both seem that way. Are you still together? "Happy Jesus" made me LOL. And poor spud!! I have seen many go down the same path as him....but Karma and all that!! Great read Joe!

levielm wrote 622 days ago

If you want to learn how to write in a light comedic style, read this book. Great opening and clear cocise concepts and sentences. Great work. Congrats on the Collins Review. JK

J.Adams wrote 780 days ago

Critique of the critique --

First I should say that I've read several incarnations of Rupee, and it has possibly gone through too many edits, rather than too few, and that could be a problem as far as flow and consistency. The original hung together beautifully, in my view, but the author has seemingly tried to please too many differing opinions (read he didn't just think my opinion was the end-all and be-all ---- go figure!!)

Seriously, because I love Rupee Millionaires so much, (Truly one of my all-time very favorite reads, not only of unpublished material, but of all the books I've ever read, and I'm a readaholic), I felt compelled to comment briefly on the HC critique and on the book.

I've read about thirty or so HC critiques of Authonomy manuscripts that I'm very familiar with, and this is by far the best review I've read. In spite of the fact that there are many points the reviewer makes about things he/she feels could be improved, the depth of interest shown by the reviewer is abundantly clear.

Rupee Millionaires appears to have fully captured the attention of someone who both loves to read good literature, and who, by virtue of their job, is likely inundated with material to read, much of it probably mediocre. It is obvious this reviewer genuinely enjoyed this story. I think that says more for Rupee than any specific point made, good or bad, helpful or not.

And that is how I felt when I read it. The story is so good. The main character Joe, is someone who immediately becomes a person the reader wants to know more about. This never changes, and the feeling of interested compassion and enjoyment of the main character grows exponentially as the story moves forward.

Rupee Millionaires is a great read because the main character is someone who comes across as a genuine, and very interesting man. A man who maybe doesn't really play by the rules, but whose own personal sense of ethics comes into play whenever necessary. There are differences between the legal and the moral. Joe is a highly evolved individual with a true sense of moral rightness while having very little regard for the rules. A maverick who can be loved and enjoyed by many people who might see a bit of themselves in this honest, and extremely funny and endearing man.

I hope HC would consider publishing this, but they will likely miss their opportunity as it's probably already in the hands of other potential publishers. I personally don't care who publishes it, I just want copies before Christmas!

Cheers,
Judy

il postino wrote 780 days ago

Wow! Very engaging opening chapters and congratulations on the HC review. Have put it on my watchlist to return to. Best wishes Il Postino (Kate) - Invisible Graffiti.

il postino wrote 780 days ago

Wow! Very engaging opening chapters and congratulations on the HC review. Have put it on my watchlist to return to. Best wishes Il Postino (Kate) - Invisible Graffiti.

JMF wrote 807 days ago

Okay - I know nothing about true life stories but for what it's worth I think your new prologue works well. It instantly hooks the reader with thought of Spud. I personally don't like your first line though. I understand the comparison with Will and Kate, but given the fact that you are worried about dating the story, this is surely one way of doing it. I'm so over that wedding! I can't even remember when it was. I really like the way the prologue ends but could you make the conversation with Sharon in Poole more dramatic? A little more tension wouldn't go amiss. But only my opinion and may be totally out of keeping with your story.
Ch 1 - I love the individual parts of this but must confess I was a little confused, going backwards and forwards in time. Again that might just be me! And maybe, I've just read too much stuff targeted at children!
Anyway, I can't see what you can do about the fact the book is set in the past. It is in the past and that's that, surely? You can't remove references to significant events that were happening at the time as they are part of the scene. So I don't get what the agents are on about.
Sorry not to be very helpful!
All the best
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Maevesleibhin wrote 810 days ago

Prologue and chapter one
Ok, I am going to go slow. 
First, general praise. 
 I really like the concept of the prologue. Particularly how you have Spud threaten you and say he saved your life.
Great stand off with Ivan and  Spud.
I love the background of your youth. I love the line where your mother confiscates your bike 
Ok, so, fine tuning. 

Why does it say
To TopTo TopRupee Millionaires

Our anniversary lunch wasn’t much compared to Will and Kate’s recent love-fest, 

I think if you are going to do this, you can do better than that. I've already forgotten all about it, except the amusement at a royal celebrity called Pipa-  I am sure that means something lewd in some language. But I digress.
So, if you are going to place it in a more recent historical content, I suggest you bask in it a bit, give us a hint of what's to come. 
The menu item almost got me thrown out of a medical waiting room, I laughed so hard. 

More importantly, we were happy and I was happy. 

I know what you are getting at, with the "we" and the "I" being different in marriage, but it is a little weird. I suggest you either explain or leave it at " we were happy"

my ill-fated quest to be a rupee millionaire

To become, no?

For my ex-business partner (and fellow rupee merchant) Spud, it literally was a lifetime ago.

I would suggest leaving out the parenthetical. 
I also have an issue with how you assert that Spud is dead, and then realise that he is not dead very soon afterwards. I suggest you either add something like
" or at least I thought so"
Or just do without saying he was dead. 

Sometimes I could feel the tiniest pang of guilt at his squalid demise. 

Again, you sound pretty sure of him being dead. 

in a vegetarian town called Pushkar.

I may be wrong but I think that the crowd which would not know about Pushkar would be flabbergasted by the concept of an entire town that is Vegetarian. I suggest you either just say
... Sausages in Pushkar. 
Or go into more detail like:
In the sacred Hindu city of Pushkar, where eating meat is about as decorous as making blood pudding with your first born's placenta. 

Ok, that may be overkill, but you get the idea. 

the abuse, the mental torture, the drug plants and the many death threats. 

Drug plants? Just seems out if place in the list. Sure you did not mean rants?

The rest of it I am fine with. I particularly like the one-word message. 

I think the prologue works very well, though. 
The first chapter is great  I had forgotten how funny this was.  And I like what you did with the colonel; it woks better here than as a prologue. 

one by holding him against a wall and punching him repeatedly in the head
Lol

He didn’t need to. He just stood there, rocking dangerously back and forth on his heels, until Viktor took a step backwards 

Now THAT is characterization. I get frustrated reading  books here sometimes.  I feel I already know Spud from this. 

But I didn’t just look weird. I was weird. ...

Ok, strictly, speaking, this is not great form,  because you are summarizing. 
But your style is informal and you can get away with it. However, you could also skip and and go straight to  trading rare pennies as your first entrepreneurial foray. (I know some
people insist on having a description of yourself, but I think you could pepper it in through the narrative rather than having it all at once). 

My mother promptly confiscated my bicycle.
Lol

As soon as I reached university, I dropped Catholicism and took up astrology and Steiner philosophy instead. 
Again, if I were to pick on you, I would say this is summarizing. We don't need to know that you went hippy at this point. We will gather this. 

Only when I turned thirty and found Buddhism and India did I latch onto a faith and a country that perfectly suited me. 

Why not skip to where you tell me about your first or an  early trip to India instead? Or tell me about why you got curious about Buddhism. Was it a girl? Was it an epiphany?

India was fun. 
I like this para a lot. 

I like the storytelling aspect of this moving forward (yes, a lot of this is still summarizing, but at this point it flows for me)
Again, I love the story of the Sikh, and of the Colonel. 

I couldn’t have set up shop at a better time. It was the start of the yuppie ’90s and Maggie Thatcher was encouraging new businesses

I think this is interesting. This is why I think the criticism you got is wrong. This is a very interesting chapter of history, and will be viewed as such later on. 

Where did you find this one – on a beach in Goa?

:). I like your mother. 

More later,
Maeve

Karamak wrote 838 days ago

God this is so good I hardly dare ask you to take a look at mine (but I will anyway) and who knows if you don't like my book it might make you realize how amazingly you spin a tale!
Well done this will get published I'm sure.
Karamak Faking it in France

MrsMayhem wrote 839 days ago

Great stuff. So evocative of a time and place. Not many people can really write funny but you pulled it off Joe.

Kate Forlong (Mrs. Mayhem)
(Ahem, you might like my Myth Magic and Mayhem, think eighties, festivals, new age travellers....)

Maevesleibhin wrote 854 days ago

Rupee Millionaires 7.

Joe,
This is not the strongest chapter in the book, I must admit. This is mostly from the first part of it. From the plot point of view, it is a very important moment- it starts to show the split between you and Spud. In the previous chapter you show how your business savvy is actually better than Spud's, and how badly he takes this. Here you make the decision of getting buying small, cheap items, and then have time to kill.
You use this time for ambiance. Once you get in the desert walk it is fabulous ambiance. The story with the mystic Israelis is very funny, as is the bum massage.
I also like Sussie. As I said earlier, she stands as a strong literary symbol of what differentiates you from Spud. She is a kind of extreme in the other direction. 
But I found the guide book stories, particularly the sex-crazed disco dancer, as well as the story of Mr Penis a bit off point and not terribly funny (sorry). 
So, I think that I would suggest you focus on Sussie, Ram, and the trek through the desert, until you get back to the hotel.
Here you do a great job with the continued character development of Spud and his terribly insecure treatment of women.
This chapter ends very well, because it shows the absolute breakdown of Spud. When he decides to ignore your instruction about the bus, and then goes to Thailand, and then doesn't, it is clear he is really very much falling apart. 
I really like Satish also- he is a fabulous character. 
I also love Ram and the mosquitos. 
George and the funny signs is funny, although random. I like random, though. 
So, again, I think that the point of this chapter is to show how much of a different person you are from Spud. The trip into the desert emphasizes this, and so does Sussie, but I feel the other stories involving Nick and Anna are a bit of a distraction. 
I hope this helps.
Best,
Maeve

Maevesleibhin wrote 864 days ago

ComLit review
Joe,
I reread chapters 3 and 4 (autho 4&5). 
These are really much stronger. To be frank, (not to suggest that I am not normally, and I  know that you always are with me) I did not realize you had changed  chapter 3. After you mentioned it, I realized that you had very 
successfully brought together elements from other sections to make this a very fun read. This is very much as I remember it. Very funny and well balanced travel writing. I like the police blockade and especially the dogs. You have fabulous, rich characters with the Colonel playing war games in his yard (Get me the nose cone of a patriot missle), Gordhan with his wonderful eyes, and Garish with his great heft. I love Mr Bullshit and Spud's reaction to him, first repulsion and then, when he realizes his usefulness, friendly. There is something very wrong with Spud, and he is always trying to figure out how to use people. I laughed out loud when Mr Bullshit ran into a sacred cow.
I found the writing very engaging and the pace always entertaining. One of the few places where I would have wanted you to expand is the para starting:. 
This hotel was an old favourite of mine. I liked it for its wacky staff, its breezy palm-fronded terrace, and its amazing sunset views over the holy lake.
Perhaps a bit more description here would be called for- it sounds a bit like a blurb from a hotel magazine.
The other spot has to do with Ivan. The para:
David Parker paid a voluptuous Italian tourist £300 to seduce him and keep him trapped in his hotel room for six days. Then, just as he prepared to do business again, he stuck his hand in his secret money stash, only to find that the Italian temptress had put a cobra in it. Once bitten, twice shy, he had left town in a coma. 

I always found this section a bit too brief and quick. I guess I want the demise of Ivan to be longer, and his character to be developed a bit more. You may not want to do this (I would not want to get more intimate with him), but at least this very funny story of his downfall could be stretched out a wee bit more.

Chapter five seems very different. It is a long chapter, but a very rich one. It is also very well drawn, and almost works as a short story. I love how you tie the Bank-Rupert mispronunciation-pun back at the end. 
You also do a very good job expanding on Spud while introducing a brand new character, George, who is just as entertaining, although a slight bit less offensive. You also bring in a bit of hedonism with Amy. This is told in a very PG way, which I like and I think is appropriate to your style.
I think the ambiance is great. One thing that I kept asking myself is how, exactly, does one walk around India with 20,000 pounds' worth of embroidery and not get mugged. 
Some comments as I read.
"But no, he hadn’t. He had simply rendered the flight attendant unconscious."
Funny, but obviously not true. As your narrative is very realistic, it might be more convincing if you say she got knocked to the floor

‘I can understand about not eating cows and pigs, even eggs, but how can anybody be offended at the death of an onion?’
Whats the answer to this question? I really want to know.

"Why do you think Liberty’s sent us to Jaiselmer – it’s a total nightmare to get there!’
I thought this was your idea, not Liberty's.

Thank you for patronising us.’
LOL

"Buy lot!’ he wheedled.
"the" missing?

"and a dead lorry driver!"
LOL

The two paragraphs starting:
Breakfast happened at noon. I quickly discovered that George and Amy had a language...
 
Summarize a little, which is in a bit of contrast to the rest of your narrative. Small issue, but if you could describe it a bit further (just another paragraph or so) t might fit better.

Yes, that’s how bad I looked without a beard.
:)
This guy is not going to last long in India, is he
:)

Push your things in the lake LOL

"Waiting for us downstairs was my old friend Ram. I had bought Ram, a handicapped local with both legs paralysed, three camels a few years before, and had set him up in business – with an office just below the Pushkar Palace."

You did? And you say it in passing? This is worth a whole chapter! You can't just put this in an aside between commas.

monkey problem’.
:)

So, I really like the revision. I think George works well, and, again, it is a tight little loop from rags to riches to rags to riches which gives me a strong feeling of what being a merchant must be like.
This will do outstandingly well.
Best,
Maeve

Samba Sister wrote 878 days ago

Glad to see you got your medal, Joe! WELL DONE!

Do you have any suggestions for my shelf this month? x

Maevesman wrote 880 days ago

This is very well written. It makes any other comments issues of taste and balance, which vary from person to person. This is especially the case because it is an autobiography, and I avoid memoirs - I don't read them.

The description of the bazaar in Ch 3 is exactly as I remember it. The description of the cows and dogs in particular.

I was, however really turned off by Spud. By are you with this man? Were you lonely, or were you just doing a really substantial amount of drugs? Because if it's drugs, you should go more with the whole Hunter Thompson vibe and really rejoice in the drug abuse and the weird cant it puts on the world.

Maeve says you do that later on.

Maeve also says that you got to the end of the list. Congratulations are in order
J

Blind Pew wrote 881 days ago

Arrrrrr, shipmate, you got your piece of gold! Buy me a seeing-eye parrot, will yee?

Unsung Heroes wrote 882 days ago

Huge congrats on your medal, Mr Kovacs - an unsung hero no longer!

Karen Eisenbrey wrote 884 days ago

Joe,

Well, you clearly don't need my advice, but you've got my backing! I usually approach memoirs with trepidation, but your breezy tone and brisk pace drew me right in. Your prologue goes right to the inciting incident. The first chapter covers your youth in a few colorful strokes, and then it's on to the meat of the story. With characters, action, description, and dialogue, it's as readable as a novel.

Karen Eisenbrey
CRANE'S WAY
ENDURANCE
TIME SQUARED

Harry.I.Cunningham wrote 885 days ago

This is a really well written and amusing portrait of the 'real' India. There were a few phrases every now and then that I felt didn't quite fit, although these are the sorts of things that only take a minute to sort out. In chapter 2 'Struck me like a chord' I thought was a tad clichéd and I think there was one point (perhaps in chapter 1) where you were describing a coat and you used to two adjectives one of them being immaculate and the other being black. I would delete the immaculate and just stick with black. Other than tiny things like that I thought what I've read so far was a really great book. Well done.
Harry Cunningham
*Please feel free to have a look at my latest attempt at a novel*

travelswrite wrote 888 days ago

Hey Joe, just read your first chapter..after the prologue. I look forward to reading more! I'm detail crazy, and would love to learn more about a couple of things. Your descriptions of the following things were well done..and left me wanting to read more about them. I'm sure you get to some of them, if not all of them in later chapters, but I wanted to leave a list of the things I'm most excited to keep reading about:

You! - You say you're weird, and give a little backstory about your childhood..but I want to know more about why you think you're 'odd'. Usually descriptions about people's odd quirks make me laugh..and I'd love to get more on your own take on your personality :)

I can picture your mom trying to help you sell..walking around the market, hawking things, worming her way into stranger's hearts. This image is great, and left me wanting a description of a conversation of hers..a little more of the 'how' ..because for some of us..this seems impossible!...I'm not much of a saleswoman, and I'd love to get into the mind of one.

Your scenes in India were brief, and I know this was a stylistic choice..lots of detail, quick snippets of your crazy market experiences. I can't wait to read more about that. To get into your mind..and fall in love with the parts of India you loved.

Looking forward to reading more.

Kind regards,
Jenny

subra_2k123 wrote 890 days ago

Hi Kovacs,
Very happy to read your book. As an Indian, I admire your research on minute details. U rite Gr8.

Connie King wrote 890 days ago

Rupee Millionaires.
What a spell-binding, intriguing and very funny biography. So intelligently-written and concise. I have never had the pleasure of visiting India, but thanks to you, Joe I've been transported there in my mind, where I could capture the essence of heat and and blindingly dangerous Eval Knieval-like taxi drivers in rickshaws. I could see the splendid, colourful array of saris worn by some of the most beautiful women in the world. You captured the softness of the material blowing in a gentle breeze, the spices and aromas filling the air of the over populated crowded markets, the machinations of the wheelers and dealers, the brilliance of the beautiful jewellery. This entertained me immensely and that was down to you, the author, making your characters leap off the pages. Your writing style is easy and professional to the last letter. It amused me but the chapter about your mum was moving - I felt your pain, as it tugged at my heartstrings. After I read this I came to the conclusion, it's on the ED desk because one day when published it's going to be among the best books money can buy. Good luck for the future. Connie x
Sinners and Shadows.

Connie King wrote 890 days ago

Rupee Millionaires.
What a spell-binding, intriguing and very funny biography. So intelligently-written and concise. I have never had the pleasure of visiting India, but thanks to you, Joe I've been transported there in my mind, where I could capture the essence of heat and and blindingly dangerous Eval Knieval-like taxi drivers in rickshaws. I could see the splendid, colourful array of saris worn by some of the most beautiful women in the world. You captured the softness of the material blowing in a gentle breeze, the spices and aromas filling the air of the over populated crowded markets, the machinations of the wheelers and dealers, the brilliance of the beautiful jewellery. This entertained me immensely and that was down to you, the author, making your characters leap off the pages. Your writing style is easy and professional to the last letter. It amused me but the chapter about your mum was moving - I felt your pain, as it tugged at my heartstrings. After I read this I came to the conclusion, it's on the ED desk because one day when published it's going to be among the best books money can buy. Good luck for the future. Connie x
Sinners and Shadows.

Juliet Blaxland wrote 892 days ago

The cover of Rupee Millionaires promises warmth and colour, and the book inside delivers it. If this wonderful book is ever published 'properly', please try to hang on to its original lovely cover! Ch. 11 has such pathos; an extraordinary coincidence, beautifully portrayed. Best of luck, and I hope it stays at the top long enough to catch the eye of a suitable deal-wheeler...

Juliet Blaxland wrote 892 days ago

The cover of Rupee Millionaires promises warmth and colour, and the book inside delivers it. If this wonderful book is ever published 'properly', please try to hang on to its original lovely cover! Ch. 11 has such pathos; an extraordinary coincidence, beautifully portrayed. Best of luck, and I hope it stays at the top long enough to catch the eye of a suitable deal-wheeler...

Juliet Blaxland wrote 892 days ago

The cover of Rupee Millionaires promises warmth and colour, and the book inside delivers it. If this wonderful book is ever published 'properly', please try to hang on to its original lovely cover! Ch. 11 has such pathos; an extraordinary coincidence, beautifully portrayed. Best of luck, and I hope it stays at the top long enough to catch the eye of a suitable deal-wheeler...

Carolyn Brown Heinz wrote 892 days ago

Hey, Joe, great story! I've seen this at the top of the list for several weeks, now, and this morning is the first I've thought to actually have a look at it. I'm putting it on my bookshelf, straightaway.

My book---Mage at Midnight---is also about India, from an anthropologist turned fiction writer. Set in Rishikesh. Pretty tongue in cheek. I'd appreciate it if you'd take a look.

Best of luck with Rupee Millionaires!

Carolyn Brown Heinz - Mage at Midnight

PA Davis wrote 892 days ago

Rupee Milliionaires
by - Joe Kovacs

This first person account just flows and flows, flawlessly. The writing is well constructed and the character depictions are vivid and realistic. Rupee Millionaires will find a place on my shelf with the next rotation and many stars.

P Alan Davis
The Red Poppy
Raindancer

GRHWagner wrote 892 days ago

Joe,
As is stated in the first paragraph of my “about me,” the requirements must touch me, inspire me, educate me, and move me to tears, to smiles, to sighs, to want more. Who would’ve guessed that ‘Rupee Millionaires’ would hit on all points? But it did! Congratulations! And now that I have finished reading what you have uploaded, I will dearly miss your delightful friends, your most obnoxious partners, your most tolerant and understanding wife -- all of the lively characters of your life, and your colourful India. Never before have I read - cared to read - and looked forward to reading about a country I seriously could not have cared less about.

I enjoyed this true life story so very much due to the rich detail with which your realistic scenes and your lively characters and their antics are painted. The broad brush of India has never been capture so well as in the pictures you created in my mind, and yes, chapter 11 is unforgetable. I did, in fact, shed tears twice at the loss of your precious mother, and stopped reading, time enough to say a prayer for her, before returning to the reading.

Your writing is near flawless, and I am far from one to instruct you as to any improvement, with the exception of the only thing that caused me to stop and re-read any part of this book. Along about the middle of chapter 10, at the introduction of Margreet, you fell out of character and changed your POV from first person and temporarily gave control of the telling to her. It isn’t uncommon to do this, and it carried on through the following chapter, but I wanted you to be aware of it. Otherwise, well done, very well done.

Thank you for a most fulfilling read. Six stars.

lizjrnm wrote 893 days ago

Just finished reading your first three chapters, Joe, and there is nothing not to like about this. While many books have you turning the pages to see what happens next, this is a book to be enjoyed in the moment. Every bit of what I have read so far is so well constructed and polished that it makes for a very smooth read. You make it so easy to picture the players here - I love how you set up your mom abruptly taking your bike away when you were 8 and already getting mischeivious. I imagine your mom will come back on the scene at some point. And Spud is hilarious. The ride on the elephant is so damn well written that I was there - up on the paciderm myself under the mesh of electrical wires and over the cacophany of the bizar. I believe this is beyond memoir, because you take us on a ride and you as the writer are right along there next to us. It is a memoir that reads like great fiction. There is a movie quality to this - like a Fear and Loathing or Rum Diaries. If the computer would let me shelve this again, I would. I am giving this book six stars! Liz

nenno wrote 893 days ago

Deservedly up there. One of the few I wish I could kindle, read properly. All the best and if you have a kindle version, will happily read all.

Juliet Blaxland wrote 897 days ago

I love this book. It is at least as good a story, and as well-written as many published books I have read in similar narrative non-fiction travel genre, but the gently tragi-comedic atmosphere makes it memorable. I really hope to be able to buy it one day in a proper independent book shop, and see it on bestseller lists.

JackWracker wrote 899 days ago

I want your hat. This book is a machine gun firing custard pies and dreams. I love it.

Vic Flange wrote 899 days ago

Hey Joe

But enough of Jimi Hendrix for now. This is a fun book, written from real life and it shines through the pages. I love the light touch (Reggie Kray protecting the book stall holder) and the short paragraphs and easy pace of the narrative. It's one of the best I've seen on here and deserves to be in print.
Best
Rich Allen
'Suicide Vacation'

Maevesleibhin wrote 901 days ago

ComLit Review
Rupee Millionaires

Joe,
In order to avoid what has happened to me in previous weeks, where I reread the first few chapters of a book that I had already read, I focused on the last few chapters you have posted Authonomy, 11-15. Since I read the first few chapters earlier, I think I have both ends of your posting, so the bread without the meat. But I am going through a veg phase anyway.
I have now read the first few and last few chapters of your book. This continues to be an absolutely delightful read, a light, entertaining, engaging narrative, full of lovely stories told as if over a dinner with dear friends. I admire your ability to keep a thread going even though your stories are often only tangentially related. At times, as I saw a new character being introduced, I feared that it would be one too many, that I would have to tell you that you need to introduce characters better. But only a few lines in, and I was hooked. I think that this has a lot to do with the  craziness and randomness of the world you are describing and the life you were living. The constant introduction of characters fits very well with the subject matter and so the reading is smooth.
As I said in my first review, this is a book that I would read on a long haul flight or a beach holiday. I highly starred and backed (well, I tried to, anyway. Some tech problems)
Plot- Memoirs, almost by definition, are open ended and have a wavering plot. But what concerned me when I started reading this book was that it was going to be a bit pointless. I have been consistently surprised by how well this carries forward, how the plot is hidden inside these stories like medicine in chocolate ice cream. And it is the hidden, character development plot that lingers there all along, underneath the great ambiance and funny interactions- here is a story of the coming of age of Joe. It is a quest for order in chaos, for meaning in an unstable world. And once this is clear, the plot is very compelling.
Character development - Again, this only refers to the last few chapters you have posted. Please see my earlier review for the comments about the earlier chapters. There are four characters that really stand out: yourself, your mother, Madge and Justin. Spud is pretty much out of the picture here, although his presence remains like the odor of a strong cheese.
You develop your own character so very well. I think that the transition from Spud to Justin to your mother to Madge offer a great opportunity to show us different facets of your character, that along with the subplot of buddhism, and how you choices affect your Karma.
Justin... what can I say. What a disaster. He is a well drawn, and ultimately dislikable character. He brought you to a bad place, a karmic negative that goes up against the positive that Madge represents. I would never touch anything that has been near his arse. You were obviously not thinking straight.
Your mother really is a lovely character, as portrayed in the book. You paint her with broad, efficient strokes, but your retelling of her history, combined with the stories of her and Madge and, of course, the reception she got in India, paint a very well developed character. As I mentioned to you earlier, the narrative of her death made me cry.
Madge is lovely, and I fond your scenes with her really endearing. Although she is a bit less clear as a character than some of the others (I don't feel I have gotten the whole story with Madge yet. There are bits and pieces, but, even though we spend a bit of time with her, I don't feel you have developed her character as much as you could- although it is clear from chapter 15 that we will be seeing a lot more of her.
Ambiance- This alone makes the book worth reading. The world of which you tell is not one that is accessible to many- not that it is glamorous. You present parts of India which I am sure I will never see, but also parts of Britain that I never thought I would be exposed to. And you write it in such an alluring way that even the dingy shops seem interesting. You make often clear that you are a veteran travel writer, and this knowledge helps alter the way in which I read this book. It is a very special travel novel, and one that I would recommend to anyone thinking about doing business in India.
You asked specifically about the drug scenes and your mother.
I think that, as I have mentioned before, both work very effectively to show your character development. Justin was really very bad for you, and so were the drugs- aren't they always. It works well to show a spiraling cycle which you manage to rescue. Your mother is, of course, lovely. When you recount her being proud of you, it brings to relief the purpose of your work in India, of your philosophy, and it harkens to the beginning of the book, when you talk about becoming closely acquainted with the customer. 
Humour- Finally, I find this book a very fun read. I rarely laughed out loud, but it was constantly funny as well as fun. Again, this is not that kind of book (although there were moments, like your mother picking individual weeds and showing them to you, or when your driver ran over the pig.)  It uses humour very successfully, and so I give it four happy faces.

Mechanics- I found only one typo, which I noted elsewhere. Although this is not beautiful writing, it is very effective story telling. I would not change a thing (well, Mr. Wow was a  bit annoying, but I still would not change it).
It is quite evident that this book will be in print soon. It has been an honour to be a reviewer of the manuscript.
Best,
Maeve

Nightdream wrote 902 days ago

Joe aka Fr*#@ is one snazzy dude. He can sure write as good as the professionals or even better at times. Though his Dial book is his best, Rupee Millionaires is also on a grande scale of greatness. I just hope publishers can see how talented he is. A nice person like himself who has a gem of a story should never be unpublished. He is actually giving us his life in his writing . . . literally. Just look at his comments. He gets lines like . . . 'This is by far the best book I have read on authonomy.' I once said this book may be even better than the bible but because Joe is so humble he didn't want me to say that. All I can say is if I was a publisher I would pick this up and give him nothing less than a million rupees.
Nightdream

Nightdream wrote 902 days ago

what a nice person I am

Adam Clark wrote 904 days ago

Hey joe,

I read up to halfway through chapter 3, so far Rupee Millionaires is really good! I like to offer constructive criticism with each comment, but I couldn't find anything to criticise. It's definitely something I would buy in a shop, and reminds me a little bit of 'Going Solo' by Roald Dahl.

The one piece of adivce I'd give you is don't get cocky! (you don't seem cocky at all, but, just in case.) You've got an amazing novel on your hands here, and you've obviously led an interesting life.

6 stars!

Adam Clark

Roman N Marek wrote 904 days ago

ComLit review

Well I enjoyed this a lot. It made me smile, it made me laugh, but primarily it won me over with its charm. The story itself is so ridiculous it can only be true. It meanders from one incident to the next, here and there throwing up a really funny line.

Anyway, for the first part of the review I will refer to the two versions of the Prologue and Ch.1 as: the Autho version and the ComLit version.

The Autho Prologue grabbed me with its charm straightaway. The ComLit version is shorter and cleverer and has a funny last line. But I found it a little muddled. For example, it’s not immediately obvious what you refer to when you say ‘each trip’. Each trip to/from where? (This becomes clear later on in the story, but is not clear when one has just come fresh to the the book). The ComLit one could be good, but needs a little fixing, whereas the Autho one is less impersonal and has the greater charm.

Autho Ch.1 First laugh was the ‘nice man called Ronnie Kray’. The writing is easy to read and pulls you along with the fascination of the country being described and the author’s experiences.

You say “in St Martin’s”. Where exactly? By the church, in the lane, by the homeless shelter? I probably saw you. I used to walk past there every day between 1989 and 2001. You probably ripped me off! You bastard. (Tee-hee. In fact, I’m pretty sure I never bought anything from your stall. I’m trying desperately to recall it, but can’t). Anyway, maybe it’s better to refer to it as St Martin’s-in-the-Fields the first time you mention it, as you do in the ComLit version.

ComLit Ch.1. In this version we’re straight into a meeting with Spud and the saree wars. First laugh was the “Viktor may have been a psycho” line. However, I felt the background was missing: the trips to India, etc. So my vote goes for the Autho version.

Ch.2. Some great lines in this chapter. I liked the burger line the best.

I wasn’t sure about the line: “human, animal or invertebrate” - invertebrates are animals. Did you mean “inanimate” or “inanimate objects”?

Ch.3. I liked the little Buddhist voice line. This is a long chapter, but thoroughly enjoyable, particularly the second half. Typo: “in out faces” should be “in our faces”.

Ch.4. Liberty’s in Russell Square? Regent Street, surely. You have “dove” instead of “dived”. I hate that. The funniest line in the chapter was about the goat-lemming hybrid. And the every living relative line, and I loved the story about Derek the Gardener. This was my favourite chapter so far.

That’s all I read. I’ll read the rest when it’s out in paperback.

Overall, a big thumbs up for this enjoyable romp in the company of dodgy Joe Kovacs and his even dodgier pal Spud.

Judy Clements wrote 905 days ago

I love this book. The characters leap from the pages and the quality of writing is excellent. I want to put this book on my bookshelf as it is the first book on authonomy that I really want to keep reading. It deserves to be published
Judy

mrsdfwt wrote 905 days ago

Joe,
I've always enjoyed reading stories about India, and yours is ingeniously crafted. Your characterization is not only vivid and real, but entertaining and funny as well.
Shelved and starred, with pleasure.
Maria

GILLIAN.M.H wrote 907 days ago

I saw a comment saying you should start a new paragraph with "Around the age of eight.... " which is about your meeting with Ronnie Kray's henchman. It would make it stand out more, but the way you have written it , shows the significance of the 'nice men' from a child's view. Having your bike confiscated would have meant a lot more then.

GILLIAN.M.H wrote 907 days ago

Although I was born in India, and lived there till I was nearly 5, I have only spent a week there as an adult. I went on a coach tour with my mother and then teenage daughter. We saw Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. India is just as you say, and you capture the atmosphere well. I have found crossing a busy street scary too. Your writing has a nice flow to it, and I found the 1st 4 chapters soothing to read, although there is a lot of excitement.

I felt annoyed with the shopkeeper who said send the rest of the goods later, and am glad that when she wanted them, you sold the lot. Serves her right!

The title of chapter 5 'Mr Bank-Rupert was enough to make me smile. This is just how an Indian, whose 1st language is not English would say ' bankrupt'. The Bollywood film Hums had me giggling, thinking of the heroine being chased by the baddies with bicycle pumps, or being doused by water. Is this the modern Bollywood equivalent of breaking into song and dance, because scenes of kissing are banned, I wonder? There is so much that is funny in this chapter. I can see why Spud wants to come back as the monkey king, who is 'paid' for servicing the females.


Gillian Bergh - Com lit.

leeconnor wrote 909 days ago

Fantastic account of an interesting life! Only halfway through so far but it really captures the imagination and aspirations of an entrepreneur as well as a great insight to India, a country I'd love to visit. Well-deserving of its place on the ED. Will keep reading and no doubt continue to enjoy.

Lee :-)

sjgcoe wrote 910 days ago

I have read the first chapter and this is a brilliant read! I already love it. I wish I could read more but I have eye troubles and have to limit my reading and have adapted to using audiobooks. When this get's published I will purchase the audiobook without question and so it gets there quicker I will top rate it. If you have the time I would also appreciate if you could take a glance at my book.