Close to the Bone
For a regular reader, a memoir can be a great exercise in discerning the person it is based on. It is also a matter of fact that those who are not famous are unabashedly ruthless in the judgment of people who are.
The last time I read a memoir, it was Soha Ali Khan’s. Titled Perils of Being Moderately Famous, it was a breezy read which made me first (unabashedly, ruthlessly) judge her, and then, completely alter my perception of her (in a very positive way). Lisa Ray’s Close to the Bone, on the other hand, made me sit up and think — not only about the star model/actor or the cancer survivor — but about the hard truths and emotions that come packaged into life. It is not a hyperbole when I say the book serves as a springboard capable enough in its prose tolaunch you into a higher, freer space.
Ray establishes who she is at the tender age of 16: “I think I have a lot of testosterone… I can’t stand anyone telling me what to do. I don’t know what I want to do yet with my life, but it is going to be something important. And I don’t like hanging out with girls.” Or, “Don’t…don’t…pinch my wings”.
Ray is a person with a heightened sense of self-awareness — simmering, unacceptable, relatable — all at the same time. She is a bundle of contradictions (aren’t we all?), whose journey in the world of modelling and spirituality — across countries, with anorexia, through toxic relationships with men, on the anvil of some largely perturbing, life-shaking events — has yielded a terrific commentary on life.
Close to the Bone is naked in its honesty — or honest in its nakedness. I liked how she does not resort to blanket lies when describing Bombay, a city which is atrociously romanticised till date. “After a while, I grew numb to poverty. I was as much a hypocrite as the others, stuffing olives and pate in our mouths though I didn’t believe that I was influenced by a Western bias.”
The biggest strength of the book is that it does not, for a moment, betray the wild ride that life is. A fairly ordinary prose about a not-so-ordinary life, it feeds off an assortment of experiences, loiters off into poetic tangents and drops epiphanies as truth bombs. It’s a life well written.