Category Archives: books

Podafone

Every time I saw one of the new Vodafone ads, I’d get this sinking feeling. The Zoozoo (as I discover they are called) depressed me no end. Driving to work this morning, I realised why… they reminded me of how persecuted Jews in Art Spiegelman’s Maus were drawn.
Maus

Maus

 

Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

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Drought / Torka

Its been a long dry spell. Why? Well… its not like school. I don’t have to give excuses.

Really. I don’t.

So on to topic of post. Nothing deep.

I read a thriller type book that kept me occupied. That I was reading it after only mildly amusing tibetan mythology and definitely unamusing Black Swan, might have helped, but something tells me this one would have been a hit anyway.

Steig Larsson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is definitely readable. Whoever did the translation keeps using the ‘anon’ for soon which sent me into happy fits. I’m sure one can nit pick and say bad things about this series but the author, as they say prominently in the blurb, died soon after giving his publisher three manuscripts. Takes all the fun out of playing critic if one is criticizing recently and tragically dead guy. Sigh.

But really. Good book for a weekend. Go get it while I go see if someone is selling the next one in India.

The Good Stuff

Its been a great run with the books recently. It all began with the Landmark sale that we stumbled into while hunting for the car. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, The Road and Summerland were all acquired there. Suttree too. But I’m saving that up for leaner times.

Michael Chabon was first discovered in 2003 or so with Wonderboys. Had dumped it into the basket on a hurried visit to the Elooru (i miss that dank corner of infantry road and the amount of saving i had to do to be able to afford the blasted place). I didn’t want to return the book. ‘Sobriety is a highly over-rated state of consciousness’ said Mr. Chabon and I agreed. What with the high from reading him. ūüôā

¬†The Yiddish Policeman’s Union is a slick book. Mr Chabon takes the case of an essay he had written on finding a ‘Say it in Yiddish’ book, and stretches it. What if a little corner of Alaska had become Israel, and in the final days before the reversion to the United States, there was the murder of a drug addict /former chess prodigy¬†/ maybe messiah. What would a down on his luck Yid policeman, who has lost his wife and is about to lose his life do? Written in a noir style, this book is unputdowneable.¬†You twist and turn with Meyer Landsman as he tries to work around his¬†ex-wife (now boss), the¬†Jewish mob, former CIA agents, his own memories and¬†a collapsing community to a satisfying denouement plus happy ending for Meyerle¬†and his Jewess. So on a scale of 1 to buy it. Buy it!

Wonderboys though, just had more soul to it. How to decide that? I could re-read Wonderboys everytime I forget enough of the plot. I can’t say quite the same for the YPU. The way a perfectly good noir book melts into happy endings and sappy lines is ūüė¶ . e.g. ¬†‘My homeland is in my hat. Its in my ex-wife’s tote bag’.¬†In defence of the line,¬†ex-wife redeems the tote bag by pulling everything from meals to first aid to kevlar vests out of it. But still, I wish Meyerle had channeled Bruce Willis till the end instead of turning into a bit of a sap.

Thats all for today folks. Hopefully shall manage to condense all the complimentary adjectives I have for the Road into a review some day. Till then…

Coincidence

Definitely poem of the day. How did The Writer’s Almanac know? It was so lovely to have¬†(some) thoughts of the morning crystallized and delivered onto screen in this…

Literature in the 21st Century

by Ronald Wallace

<!– (from Long for This World: New and Selected Poems) –>

Sometimes I wish I drank coffee
or smoked Marlboros, or maybe cigars‚ÄĒ
yes, a hand-rolled Havana cigar
in its thick, manly wrapping,
the flash of the match between
worn matchbook and stained forefinger,
the cup of the palm at the tip,
the intake of air, and the slow and
luxuriant, potent and pleasurable
exhale. Shall we say also a glass
of claret? Or some sherry with its
dark star, the smoke blown into the bowl
of the glass, like fog on portentous
morning, the rich man-smell of gabardine
and wool, of money it its gold clip?

Sometimes I wish I had habits
a man wouldn’t kick, faults a good man could
be proud of. I’d be an expatriate from
myself, all ink-pen and paper in a Paris café
where the waiters were elegant and surly,
the women relaxed and extravagant
with their bobbed hair and bonbons, their
perfumed Galoises, their oysters and canapés,
and I’d be writing about war and old losses‚ÄĒ
man things-and not where I am, in this
pristine and sensitive vessel, all
fizzy water, reticence, and care, all reduced
fat and purified air, behind my deprived
computer, where I can’t manage even
a decaf cap, a mild Tiparillo, a glass of
great-taste-less-filling light beer.

I challenge anyone to read Cormac McCarthy and not want to be a manly, hunter type.I certainly want to be. ūüôā

Sweating the Small Stuff

Sometime in the past 4 weeks, somewhere between three cities, I seem to have misplaced my driving license. Sigh. Under other circs this would not be so bad.¬†However have just acquired car, it is EXTREMELY inconvenient to not be able to drive. Most errands¬†right now¬†involve getting vehicle from point a to b to c. ¬† I’m ready to brain everyone (self included) for having to wait and plan my life around ‘who-has-a-valid-license-and-is-free’¬†

There is nothing more irritating than dependence.

Consolation is in Divisadero. Storyline so far is pretty close to an M&B Рyoung love comes to an end when father of girl discovers couple together, beats boy almost to death, takes screaming girl away from her one true love.  Girl grown up translating things in France. Boy practicing card sharp. So far so nice and if it were M&B they would find their way back to each other and happy endings would happen.

But this is Ondaatje. While every page reads like rough, uncut verse sending shivers through my brain, a happy ending is unlikely. Fat Consolation this is going to be.

Incomplete Crisis

Imaginary conversation in schizophrenic brain (SB). A symptom of reading diet consisting of McCarthy and Palahnuik with an India-Pakistan in nuclear holocaust essay thrown in for the light stuff between the two.

Cover of Book by Chuck Palahnuik
Cover of Book by Chuck Palahnuik

SB1: When I was 18 I had all my existential crises in my head. Didn’t act them out. Actually even the ones I had weren’t violent.

SB2: Yeah. That is because you were having them to the tune of Milan Kundera and Emily Dickinson. You can only have sensible epiphanies on the nature of life. It leads you to virtuous, old-fashionedly optimistic choices. If you had been more with it, reading Palahnuik or even the damn newspaper often enough you would have managed a more modern angst. It would have been edgy. You would have acquired and acted out a nice doped out violent streak.

SB1: But it would have been more expensive. I mean, there wasn’t a single character in this Palahnuik that wasn’t a walking pharmacy. I couldn’t have afforded those things. And even if I had managed to scrape together the resources, it would have ended up like ‘The Joke’. Downing laxatives when you meant to commit suicide with some sleeping pill thing. I wouldn’t have known which pills to swallow for a headache, let alone to get a high.

SB2: Haven’t you heard of google?

SB1: Oh Yeah. The good student way to becoming druggie. Google your way through a lit survey. Shortlist drugs of choice. Stock. Then snort, swallow or syringe as appropriate.

SB2: Uh. Yeah. You have to start somewhere. If you want something done right, have to do it yourself in nice organised fashion. And its not like the peer group is overflowing with people that can help.

SB1: But what about guns? Not possible to do good rampage without accessories.

SB2: Kitchen Knife?

(Some sane corner of brain) : Shut up. Its time to read Thirukkural

 

Discovery

Page 35 of my first Cormac McCarthy and my enthusiasm is boundless. Given the mood I’m in, pleases me to read book where people die at frequent intervals.¬†¬†It pleases me even more that¬†its all described in perfect, sparse sentences.¬† And such¬†inventive invective…

There is no description of a fool, he said, that you fail to satisfy. Now you’re goin to die.’