Friday, July 27, 2007

A Torn Page from the Notebook

>>Danielle hangs Rothkos in her apartment. Four of them. Which ones now. The Rothkos are repeatedly mentioned as tools of solace. Tools? Mirrors perhaps. No, that's absurd. Not mirrors. Must be presence. Whatever. Anyway, must see if Messud offers clues to which Rothkos are hung. But does it make a difference? They are all so similar.

* I knew Potter would have ended up an Auror. But Ron? RON! And what does Ginny do? Keep home?

* Pay Attention to the World. How much one loves Susan Sontag. Can't quite understand why. Must be that essay on how she reads.

>> Buy Harry Potter audio book for Grandpa. I shudder to think of the reaction. Sigh.

* Why do I not listen to books? Why am I so closed to them? That's the thing - closed. Cynical as well. Throw e-books into that muck too. Such great audio around and I can't appreciate it. Hmm...???////??--- The great fault of mine is to think that I have to approach reading through all its methods. Why so?

* Claire Messud is a winner. Clearly. The Emperor's Children beats anything I've read recently. And I haven't even got to the end of the book yet. The dialogues, how does she manage such brilliance effortlessly? Effortlessly??!! Indeed, she'll know about effort!

* Chenthil likes Frederica. Yay! Must find next suspect to foist Heyer on. Somebody open-minded. Somebody who does not equate darling Heyer (say 'Hair' not 'Hey err') with M&B balderdash. The irony of finding M&Bs priced so high in second hand bookstores, higher than the Roths and the Whartons. Dostoyevsky for Rs.20! and the M&B minimum is 60 bucks. Ha, state of the times!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

People like you cause the hype, the frenzy,...(with a sad shake of the head) such madness. Those were the husband's words this morning. One brushed it off until one read this:
The children's telephone counselling service has announced it will be laying on extra staff to cope with any surge in calls from grief-stricken children if rumours are borne out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

At such times, one thinks the husband may be right.

Nevertheless, one is going to read the last Potter book starting this evening (the book gets home delivered this afternoon). One will try not to read any spoilers, any chapter by chapter updates until one is done with the book (and the series, in a way). One is loath to confess to the shock one felt when, on reading a few pages at random from The Order of the Phoenix last night, one wanted to call the prose pedestrian (an adverbial mess). But this morning one knows that one doesn't read Potter for prose. One reads Banville for that. So why does one read Harry Potter then? Ah, to answer the question you'll have to pick up the book and find out yourself.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chris Long Tail Anderson and a couple of his friends start a new website called BookTour. Filching the description from this post:
[BookTour is] a free online service that connects authors and potential audiences of all sorts, from book groups to civic organizations, from bookstores to corporate events. Authors create their own page (biography, books, tour dates and availability) and any group looking for speakers can find them and contact them directly to arrange for an appearance. Relevant information for both authors and venues can be added in minutes through a simple fill-in-the-blanks interface. Connecting authors with potential audiences then becomes as easy as searching (by geography, book titles, subject, dates of availability) and sending an email.

For authors, serves as a one-stop tool for book promotion, allowing authors at all levels of their careers to locate receptive live audiences. For readers and audiences, makes finding when a favorite author is coming to your town as easy as checking the weather.
You know, this morning, on the blank page at the back of the Edith Wharton hardcover, I was furiously updating my TBR list. This list is made up solely of books and articles that are mentioned in Lee's book. It is amazing how, inevitably, a good book points you to many others. Funny then that I should come across a post on the topic right after my list was updated.
One hears that Somerset Maugham's books (the first edition one supposes) had a repeating symbol on the cover. An arch over a straight line, each marked by other smaller lines. Head over here for pictures and comments.
WATER is taught by thirst;
Land, by the oceans passed;
Transport, by throe;
Peace, by its battles told;
Love, by memorial mould;
Birds, by the snow.

-Emily Dickinson, Time and Eternity Collection

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yes, yes, while we are confessing, might as well admit to pre-booking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just a week to go.

Incidentally, asked Kay, could we go out for lunch? She said, yes as long as it is not July 21st. I wonder what she'll do if I kept calling her that day. Err...on second thoughts that would mean stopping my own reading. There is some merit in carefully choosing one's pals you know ;)

In which one confesses to watching Sivaji

A family wedding is one of the best places to be at soon after a major media event. Especially if said media event is of the magnitude of Sivaji. Everyone you earlier thought was ridiculous offered you a fresh chance to reaffirm your opinion. Slim facts flew from every corner: They spent 56 crores to make Sivaji. Gah, they spent 101 crores. No, no, NDTV said 86 crores. Rajini was paid 36 crores. No, 17 crores. Did you look at the grand sets? Anand's photography was too good. Cinematography. All the same pa. Rahman's music was too loud. It was the speakers in the theatre you idiot. Apu's saree is the same colour as Shriya's dress in that song...what song...aiyyo. Shriya's dress? What dress? It was barely dress. That harem song pa. What is it? Sahana? Who knows, ellame orey bramaandam. Athirudhu la. Yeah, the songs were good. Did you see how fair Rajini was? Ooooh gross! But he looked so young in the movie. Shriya is so beautiful. I loved her accessories. She was an accessory you mean? Vivek is the saving grace (yours truly nodded sagely at this remark). Hey, padam paathiya, super illa? Couldn't you tell me you had tickets!...

I am your average movie watcher. I do not bother too much about the specifics of the movie as long as the screenplay is entertaining enough to make my couple of hours fly. In fact I do not even mind willingly suspending my disbelief for the entire length of the movie. But it had better be a narration that doesn't lose its way and scream at the audience for further help.

I won't call myself a die-hard Rajini fan who has made up her mind to like the movie as soon as it has been announced. Yet, I don't discredit the man or his appeal. I forget how many times I have watched Guru Sishyan; I can repeat the dialogues easily. Or of how impressed I was when Baasha was such a respectable masala. And Thillu Mullu is a classic of course. Which is why I think Sivaji is such a disappointment - as a Rajini movie, as a Shankar movie, as a much awaited masala movie. To me, it fails on all these counts. What the movie is is a hodge-podge of cliches, of tired old styles, of the corruption theme beaten to its hollow sorry death. And all of these would have been acceptable had they at least been woven together with some consideration for the viewer. Script? what script! It is as if the bosses involved in the movie said, lets dazzle them with grandeur, let us create scarcity and let us get out of all our debts. And, one must give it to them for that. Success.

I remember watching some celebrities being asked their opinion about how the movie was. Their replies were very predictable. In Rajinispeak there are no words to express negatives. All you can do if you hate it is to say it is good. That is as negative as it can get. I think a lot of people would have been happy to see a funny Rajini doing his funny antics in a light movie. In other words a repeat of all his other movies, without nauseating the audience with tubes of fair & lovely silliness and plates of tummy churning red chillies. And doing it on and on for three hours at that. For one scene of a smart mottai boss, three hours of unwilling suspension of sanity. Sigh, I don't even know if I can like Solomon Pappiah anymore.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The sorted books project. Fascinating. (via)

And the link goes to...

Thomas Allen brings book covers to life. The Georgia Review runs some of his fascinating pictures (via Paper Cuts)

I forget how I landed here but these coffee book recommendations are awfully enticing.

I am charmed by Banville's round table in the right corner

Talking of Banville, the latest issue of Tin House contains an interview with him:
Jennifer Levasseur & Kevin Rabalais:
Notions of art and the artist recur throughout your work, as well as in reviews you have written of other writers and in comments about your own writing. When you received the Booker Prize, you said, “It is good to see a work of art being recognized.” What makes a novel a work of art?

John Banville: In a work of art, the technique and the form are far more important than the content. Content, to a large extent, is merely an aspect of form for the artist.

Remember the Book Inscriptions Project? It was widely written about some months back. I thought I had a link to it on this blog but can't seem to locate it now. Anyway, worth several hours of snooping around(via)

How would you know if a book is too hard for you to read? Well, if you try reading it, you'll know. Or you might try counting with your fingers.

Murakami talks about note in Jazz Messenger (requires login):
Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work. I learned the importance of rhythm from music — and mainly from jazz. Next comes melody — which, in literature, means the appropriate arrangement of the words to match the rhythm. If the way the words fit the rhythm is smooth and beautiful, you can’t ask for anything more. Next is harmony — the internal mental sounds that support the words. Then comes the part I like best: free improvisation. Through some special channel, the story comes welling out freely from inside. All I have to do is get into the flow. Finally comes what may be the most important thing: that high you experience upon completing a work — upon ending your “performance” and feeling you have succeeded in reaching a place that is new and meaningful.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Someone somewhere (where else, one of the blogs) was wondering if selling books second hand was legal. That set me searching (still) and, as is always the case with surfing, I chanced upon other very interesting links and parked my attention at each of these spots. Here we go, logging them for revisits:

The History of the Book - the papyrus to parchment to paper story. Did those early readers lament papyrus losing to parchment and all? We would have created a ruckus I bet.

Why is everyone linking to Uncommon Arrangements? In the last two days of catching up I've forgotten how many times this link showed up. And we go around saying gossip is bad!

My Father's Library:
My father's lifelong relationship with books mirrored Hugh Hefner's relationship with bimbos; day and night, he always had to have several within reach. He slept with a pile of them on his bed. He drove with a couple of them open on the seat next to him. While traveling, someone, usually the smallest in the family, had to trail him with a book bag as if it were the President's nuclear football.
When I was still young enough not to repeat tales like this to my mother, Dad brought me to Sonoma to visit a fellow Jack London fanatic with a bookstore right next to the Jack London Ranch. "Here's something for the collection," Dad's jovial book pal said, pulling out from his desk drawer a large clear plastic bag filled with gray powder. "Jack's niece," he announced. "She died without any relatives, so now I've got her remains." Dad examined the proffered bag with fascination. The air between the two men filled with unspoken genetic speculations, price calculations and home-storage ideas. One of them--I'd like to remember it as being Dad--finally broke the silence: "Probably best to spread them over his grave?" There should be a punctuation mark for regret.

Monday, July 02, 2007

yes, I had a view, thank you.

June was flavoured with mist, rain, downpour, flood, wedding, shopping and of course reading.

Learning that green silk sarees wear out faster than other coloured ones because of the weave and therefore need to be subjected to the warm water + shampoo treatment much earlier...

Staying at a place called Finger Post and laughing aloud every time I had to mention the place to someone...

Writing my trip notes in an unruled school notebook and struggling with the handwriting...

Matching activity pictures to the corresponding words to win the niece's approval (my niece, as always, assumed I was three and a half years old)...

Memorizing Louise Gluck's Happiness while getting wet in the rain...

Yes, June was a flavourful month.