Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some notes and a list

This blog was not abandoned. As the volume of update increases, so does the inertia.

Here is my long overdue mid year update on books read- kindled, unkindled, and lately ipadded :) Mid year – because since July, the only reading logged is some stray poetry and short stories here and there caught between a long car ride or just random. No much reading since the last month.

But prior to July, here is a list and a short history of my feelings on these books.

Most of the following books have been un-kindled. And my theory is, there are too many unread books in my bookshelf, which I saw daily and hence felt like reading them...and what I have on kindle, lots of unread stuff but you have to switch it on and browse through it...and if you don’t do that, well then, out of sight - out of mind applies to many things in life. BTW, I have taken a resolution – no more book buying for the rest of this year. Have been on it for the last one month – and this included two trips abroad, but have been able to live up to my resolve.

I have been able to read a lot of short stories this year – and have liked the experience. This was one of my resolves for the year.

The Matisse Stories by Byatt: About the aurthor first - I borrowed Possessions from a friend a few years back, but I could not complete it..if I remember well, it was about Proust and about people who were researching Proust...so I thought it made more sense to read Proust first before returning to the book. But despite all my noble intentions, I have not been able to read Proust. Similarly, Matisse - am not familiar with his paintings, just a few quick google search may be, but the stories are simply AWESOME. These are three short pieces, readings worth an evening, but ruminations and discussions thus evoked, keep you engaged and entertained for several evenings. And the author is able to beautifully and quite effortlessly evoke a range of sensual feelings...from taste, to smell, to colors, to feel....quite a task for an author who just feeds you on a few words and leaves you to imagine the landscape. The landscape, in case of quick read stories is generally a flat 2D type. But in case of authors like these, it is quite multi-dimensional - as if you are a part of their world...and the range of thoughts, feelings is also much wider on those few pages than anything I have read recently (I say the same for In Other rooms I guess). Highly recommended read. It needs some kind of high form of art to let people enter that sense of awe and wonder and letting them experience your senses and sensibilities. The beauty of the book is such that even after I finished reading one more book...I still have mental conversations with myself on which would be the best story of the three (Byatt's book has three stories).

Regarding Daniyal Mueenedduin and his In Other Rooms, Other Wonders... I have already said so much here and there. I was big time floored. Reproducing my thoughts here: (From FB)

Floored By Danial Mueenuddin's short story - 'Our lady of Paris' (from his collection - In other room, other wonders) A beautiful collection, still reading...but really moved by this story in particular - writing this as i emerge totally wooed, floored by this story ...was quite involving, fascinating and something which took me away from what I've read in recent times.

Wonderful first publication...waiting for more. Talent, craft...everything very impressive. Beautiful, beautiful writing , complex emotions, characters with spine,...k has lot more to say, he introduces me to this one. Awesome writing. Starred for future Reading. It would be difficult to go back to other authors...the dimensions that characters in this book cover...others would look so flat and boring.

So I am totally floored by this guy. Willing to discover more such books and authors...and willing to learn more and feel more...these things give more meaning to life :)

Then comes the Tent by Margaret Atwood...collection of short essays/fiction in the line of Murder in the Dark. I like reading Atwood...her writing is brilliant. sometimes it is too stratosphere with me...sometimes I have to read again,...but sometimes the brilliance is pure and dazzling. I really liked the cat's tale ...its quite intriguing to know the range of thoughts, fodder....the kind of things these guys think. And then write so masterfully about.

Then of course, the sweet Bridget Jones's ...I have not seen the movie... It may be classified as Chick Lit as they like calling it...but, it was some fun. One book, where I really laughed out loud at places. It does sound like meeting the prince charming kind of tales...but since its a diary...and since it deals with resolutions and since it deals with problems and emotions that are just so female in nature and sometimes...I don't know if people feel it, but the undercurrent is the same...last century's working female trying to figure the world out....somewhere sounds like Doris Lessing...but it would be injustice if I compare them (because I didn’t even remember the author name here. I googled)...its just that the theme resonates...though the approach and the literary-ness may be far different. Entertaining quick read. She is quite like-able with all her follies and foibles. And yes, one can identify with her as well. Worth a read.

Then in memory of J D Salinger...I finished Catcher in the Rye. I look forward to reading his other stories. Am quite in awe. And quite tired to write more...and the book deserves to be written about. So sometime soon.

Dork is a classmate's book. And my sense is book writing is a task of devotion as well as lots and lots of courage...its like putting yourself on paper and letting others into your most-thought thoughts and ruminations and however much you 'create' - some fact, some belief would creep in the story which would be you shining through.

Dork is a fun read, there are places where I laughed and laughed and people around me started staring...I am quite proud and impressed by all the people whom I know and who are writing books...three classmates so far. Hats off to you guys. Otherwise- authors you tend to form impression by the stands they take, the texts they write.

Franny and Zooey - a story behind the book. One of my trips to Delhi, I was looking for this book at he airport (I had finished the catcher in the rye...and I was craving more of Salinger) but the book was not in stock. I went to the lounge and dejectedly pulled out my own book...Nadine Gordimer and then I looked around and saw this girl sitting next to me reading Franny and Zooey...and I was like Vow! What a coincidence! I started talking to her...told her what was on my mind -she told me she was travelling, and she believed in leaving all extra luggage behind while she travelled through our country with her Mom...and she was about to leave the book in her hotel (because she thought it was not her type of book, she was not hooked) - and her mom asked her to give one last try and she listened and the book was there ...but she 'll leave it soon. When I told her my story....she gave the book to me and said may be ...it was her boyfriend's b'day ...back in mexico, it was about to be morning in mexico soon, she wanted to surprise him by sending wishes in Hindi...so in return of penning down the Hindi of Happy Birthday, I got to read Franny and Zooey the day I wanted to read it...

About the book now - I liked reading it. Many people have many views but I liked the Glass family. I liked the book's pace, I liked the way it was worded and I want to read more of Salinger.

The Girl With the Dragon tattoo...hmmm. Nice fill of reading with lots of thrill...

After I finished reading Larsson's second book, I have promised myself that I'll not buy any more books for myself this year. Yes, six full months of this year still left. And am sure with landmark next door, and work starting in July, and airport trips and flipkart and kindle and iPad, difficult promise to keep, but at least an effort to contain myself and read what I already have.

Larsson's second book is a page turner...like the first and holds you till you finish it which I did at 4 am on Monday morning and almost missed achi's school in the morning. But am staying away from the third. It drains you Out, terrifies, and there is just so much going on there.

One observation here, when you read Nabokov, you feel like picking up the dictionary many times on each page. For larsson, I don't think it happens at all. It talks about the literary quality I guess. But the key point here is that even for Marquez, dictionary picking is not the thing, may be once a few pages, but the way thoughts shape up, and things reveal themselves. Sample this: a thriller author says: he woke up, made coffee, read the report. Marquez will say the butterflies started dancing by the movement on the bed and the fly on the coffee mug flew away threatened by an approaching hand. There was a piece of paper which held in it's bosom secrets which forget to reveal themselves to the onlooker but a probe was all it needed. The fly which had made itself comfortable on the paper, flew away again twice frightened in the span of a few seconds by the same enemy, confirming indeed that it was the enemy, Something like that.

So it's narrative/storyline, language and thought. The three sides of the literary triangle. The best ones are I guess the best in all three.

And for my record, here is the list:

  1. 2010 by Aurther Clarke
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. In Other rooms, other wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Short stories)
  4. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (Kindle)
  5. The Matisse Stories by AS Byatt (Short stories)
  6. The Tent by Margaret Atwood (Short stories)
  7. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger (Kindle)
  8. Diamond Dust by Anita Desai (Short stories)
  9. Franny and Zooey - J D Salinger
  10. Dork - Sidin Vadukut
  11. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  12. And thereby hangs a tale by Jeffery Archer (Short stories)
  13. To kill a mocking bird (kindle)
  14. Everything ravaged, everything burned by Wells Tower (Short stories)
  15. Despair by Nabokov
  16. Dance of the happy shades by Alice Munro (Short stories)
  17. The Girl who played with fire – Stieg Larsson
  18. The Stranger at the Palazzao D’oro – Paul Theroux (Short Stories)
  19. Beethoven was One Sixteenth Black – Nadine Gordimer (Short Stories)
  20. The Financial Lives of the Poets - Jess Walter

And reading – Borges (Current hot fav), Alice Adams, Nabokov (All short fiction) and Newyorker 20 under 40.

Notes on rest of the books later.