Rooting for Robert Yeo’s Routes

Everyone and his grandmother are into writing their memoirs or their autobiographies. Those with the moolah and/or an interesting life (but not the gift of the pen) would also have their stories told as biographies by some hired hand .

This is happening everywhere, especially now that it’s so easy to string words together, using a word processor and cut and paste. 

And Singapore, never behind in trends has seen a semi-avalanche of great lives, still living or past, being served up between covers.

The majority of those who have published accounts of their life’s experience here have come from the political arena or are high profilers in their own right: Lee Kuan Yew, Said Zahari and Teo Soh Lung to name but a few.  Bankers and businessmen too.

If I want to, I could be having regular meals in fairly convival settings for the price of a hard cover. But most times I’d rather buy my own meals and not waste the money on someone else’s life, however interesting it is.

Because with a meal, after it’s done, that’s that. Not with a book.  I need to read it and some volumes could give me indigestion. But I jest. 😆 ! It’s just that unlike food or drinks, a book needs shelf space and regular dusting. Too much follow up after I’ve done with it. It’s the same with other possessions but that’s another story.

For this post, I’m just doubly struck by the thought of time, space and wasted as I partly clear a book shelf of hard covers to send to a librarian friend at Iseas to take up to Penang where she wants to start a library. They are all books mostly partially read or unread and been waiting, some for years, for me to find the time to go thru them.

Guess I should adopt what one friend does: anything her husband doesn’t wear, read, eat etc after six months goes out of the cupboard and is given away! 🙄 

Author with sister n famous Kishore Mahbubani

This said, I will and must make an exception of Routes, written by an old (as in length of years known) friend, Robert Yeo. It was launched in late July at the National Library’s pent-house by the man who wrote the volume with the provocative title: Can Asians Think?

And, at the launch Kishore Mahbubani generously credited Robert Yeo, his former English teach, with helping him to develop his literacy! Truly a great endorsement of the Routes author, if one is needed.

But endorsement of Routes doesn’t stop there,   as witness what another memoirs writer, Ismail Kassim has to say about the beautifully crafted volume about Robert’s life up to 1975.

With such a triple A rating from an ex-colleague, how could I not go thru Routes once again although having read it in draft over almost a year has robbed me of the pleasure of reading the publication fresh. The loss is all mine!


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