Archive for the ‘books etc.’ Category

books

Loved the narrative voice in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and reading Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep was like reading a movie. Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary offered more than a glimpse of the writer’s intense writing process. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man didn’t really capture my imagination until the later pages. There were two books about genocide, a nonfiction Elie Wiesel’s Night and fiction, Edna O’Brien’s Little Red Chairs that moved between Ireland, London and Bosnia. Jack London’s The Call of the Wild evokes the inherent wildness in us. Orhan Pahmuk’s A Strangeness in My Mind takes us into the life and mind of a boza seller who married the wrong girl and loved the right one. Vivek Shanbag’s Ghachar Ghochar, a translation from the Kannada, promised Chekhov-like writing, and came with a live ant (!) Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was about how a woman turns vegetarian, taking it to the extreme, and the way she affects her husband, brother-in-law, and sister.

Andre Breton’s Nadja is surrealism personified, and Katie Daisy’s How to be a Wildflower is a vibrant treat. The insights in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own are still relevant, and the honesty and courage in Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water has made her one of my favourite writers. Read Neruda’s Selected Poems, and 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair aloud in Spanish and English to taste the textures in their entirety. Sarita Mandanna’s Tiger Hills brought alive Coorg, and there was a whiff of Gone with the Wind in its pages. Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi made me realise that this was the first book of fiction I have read that was set in Australia. I read Vita Sackville-West’s Joan of Arc the first week of May; the same time in the 15th century, Jeanne brought about the fall of Orleans. It was on May 30 that she was burnt at the stake.

Stories on screen –

movies

Telly

© Anuradha Prasad, 2017

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There were many stories…told, listened to, read, watched, imagined, written.

 Print:

  • Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye – on being bullied
  • Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying – on finding your identity as a woman
  • Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth – on trying to find a place in society as a woman
  • Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost – on the many ways of being lost
  • Jonas Jonasson’s The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – on travelling with nukes and being a math genius
  • Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – on unusual adventures

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  • Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children – on war, inside us and outside us
  • Patrick Suskind’s Perfume – on murder and scents
  • Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo – on an unconventional love story
  • Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer – on being a writer and broke in Paris
  • Banana Yoshimoto’s Asleep – on the many ways we sleep
  • Abeer Hoque’s Olive Witch – on cultural identities

Screen:

  • Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde
  • Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette
  • Spike Jonze’s Adaptation
  • Bernardo Bertolucci ‘s Stealing Beauty
  • Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight
  • Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers

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  • Woody Allen’s Café Society
  • Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol
  • Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys
  • Park Chan-wook ‘s The Handmaiden
  • Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes
  • Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere
  • O.J: Made in America

And live at the Ruhaniyat 2016, Nohon Shumarov –

whitman-anuradha

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

It is good to get back to reading. To fall in love with words once again, so much so that they give me goose bumps. To become so immersed in the characters that I am a part of them, feel their exhilaration, pain, love and experience every facet of human nature.

I am currently reading Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and aching to get back to it. Just a few days ago, I finished Of Love and Shadows and am already a fan of Allende. Maybe I will pick up Eva Luna tomorrow – the blurb sounds promising.

Of Love and Shadows (De amor y de sombre) was about well, love in the shadow of military rule in a Latin American country.

Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger (which won the Booker) is about a historian Claudia, who is dying of cancer and plots a book on nothing less than the history of the world woven with the story of her life and the love she finds and loses in the desert during the war.

Both writers, Allende and Lively, bring in elements from their own lives into their books. Lively was born in Egypt and in Moon Tiger, Claudia recalls her days in Egypt. It is interesting to read how history is remembered.

Penelope Lively

Allende was a journo and is related to the Chilean president Salvador Allende who was overthrown in a coup, after which she was in exile. In Of Love and Shadows Irene is a journo and the love story is set against the political upheaval in the country. Irene eventually flees the country to save her life with Francisco, carrying in her heart the hope to return.

Isabel Allende

There are many ways to return and to remember one’s history, I suppose.

It was a full house as fans, age no bar, showed up in full force to get up close and personal with their favourite author Ruskin Bond at the Crossword Bookstore in Frazer Town for the launch of his book, The Adventures of Rusty, a collection of short stories, published by Penguin India.

The author fielded questions from the audience with easy humour. He talked about his writing, reading choices, life in the hills, Harry Potter and his overzealous efforts to plant a kiss on Priyanka Chopra during the shooting of Saath Khoon Maaf, which was based on his story, Susanna’s Seven Husbands. A few students read his poems and Bond enthralled his fans with a new poem, Hip Hop Nature Boy.

During his brief stay in Bangalore, he visited Lalbagh and Koshy’s. He recalled an historical account of Bangalore that he had written for the Bangalore Golf Club, a decade ago. As he drifted back to the hills, his sanctuary, he said he loved to stay in bed for an extra few minutes every morning to bask in the warmth of the sun streaming through the window, a warmth he seems to take with him wherever he goes.

Work has taken over life the past two months. Managed to squeeze in three movies, one whole book (with three in progress), swapped fashion mags for Lonely Planet and Geo, daydreamed about the perfect life, almost planned a trip to Paris…The urge to survive, to live and love is pushing up to the surface. Again. And i like it.

Black Swan was spookily beautiful. Kudos to Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel. Nina, the ballerina, striving to nail the act. Beth, the has-been. Thomas pushing boundaries. The sexually confident and langurous Lily. Erica, the overbearing mother. Control. Obsession.Repression. Perfection. Insanity. And the Black Swan coming alive. No boundaries between what’s real and what’s hallucination. Magnifique!

Sadly, i followed this up with Saath Khoon Maaf. The only bit that i liked was that song that begins with ‘Daaaarrrrrling’. Spolier alert – Priyanka Chopra doing the sufi whirling with Jesus Christ? Oh, c’mon!

A few weeks later, watched Rio but in 2D. It wasn’t as witty or wicked as Ice Age. But was colourful. My favourite part? Blu and Jewel flying over Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

I read Julian Barnes’ Before She Met Me. It was funny but with a psychological slant to it. A man who tracks down all his wife’s B-grade movies and the men she slept with before she met him. This obsession spirals into depression. The laughs become lesser and lesser until it is no laughing matter.

I am reading and enjoying The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

To Paris! Someday…i will come home to you.

Read little. Ate much. Discovered a new interest. Scattered.

Willing to commit, but can’t find something to commit to. Or someone to commit to. Beginning to accept that an ideal job does not exist. A couple not in love can be in a happy marriage. A couple in love can be in an unhappy marriage. Such is life.

Read Mind Blogs 1.0. by Zahid H Javali, Christina Daniels and Nirmala Govindarajan in between my exams. Warm, funny, relatable experiences.  Finally started reading Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. I have a bit of  Philip in me.  And working on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  Supposed to unblock me. Started the morning pages and doing it regularly for a couple of days now. Feel lighter.

T Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind is making me see money in a new way and have even started thinking about investments.  Also reading this – http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/2356/roy_2_15_11/ – Amitava Kumar interviews Arundathi Roy.

Had an urge to click and joined a photo walk by the Photography On The Move people in January. We went to a temple complex called Bhoganandishwara near Nandi Hills and later to a nearby village called Sultanpet where there was a pottery unit and silk weaving unit. Pretty eclectic bunch. Most came with dslr’s while i had to make do with a cranky old point and shoot with a mind of its own.  Couldn’t get good shots of the pottery and silk weaving but the ones of the temple which mainly involved working with light were pretty decent. Definitely want to play with photography this year.

Went to a photography exhibition at National Gallery of Modern Art. The photographs were from V & A called Something That I’ll Never See.  The photographs, the thoughts and techniques behind them, were on another level altogether where i won’t be going but inspiring nonetheless. It’s a gorgeous place, ngma is. Big white mansion, mirror pool, lots of greenery and colourful blooms. Went armed with my cam but they were preparing for the Attakalari Biennial so could not get any good shots.

(Pic from http://letteredfeelings.blogspot.com/2011/01/national-gallery-of-modern-arts-ngma.html)

Found this great place to shop in Indiranagar called The Orange Bicycle. Must, must get my hands on The Doors bag.

Loved the sushi and dim sum at Zen in Leela Palace. Actually ate eel-sweet, salty and fishy.   And neer dosa, fish curry, crabs at Coast to Coast but after tasting the sushi and dim sum, not so keen on curries and masalas anymore.  Another place i loved was Chaipatty Teafe. A chai shop. Rustic yet contemporary. And is supposed to play some fantastic Pakistani music in the evenings.

Just one movie – No One Killed Jessica, which stuck to the events as they happened without turning into a documentary.  Expected Sabrina to be a stronger personality and Meera should’ve stayed in the background. Looking forward to The Black Swan this weekend.

Watched Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds finally. It was fantastic. The performance that stood out was Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz.

On the telly, saw Julie and Julia. Julie is a writer who starts a blog inspired by Chef Julia Child’s recipe book, which turns into an instant success. Meryl Streep was brilliant as the loud, hearty, and larger than life Julia.

Then there was The Social Network and you got a peek into the conception of Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg. Not all of it was pretty, but then success never is.

The Tourist was again a good watch. I watched it mainly for Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie who are gorgeous, gorgeous people. I wish Jolie would gain some weight. She looked much better in Salt.

Reading-wise, I read and enjoyed Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (finally) and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

Abha Dawesar’s That Summer in Paris could’ve been skipped. Picked up The Laws of the Spirit World by Khorshed Bhavnagri but didn’t really connect with the subject matter so didn’t read it.

Also, finished Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a piece of non-fiction that is the author’s take on running, life and writing. If i haven’t said this before, i’ll say it now. Murakami could easily be my soul mate.

Books i bought but yet to start reading –

Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual


W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage


What I loved about Siri Hustvedt’s novel were

* the characterisations and their rich inner life

* the way the story unfolds – the plot is not tightly wound but more of a meandering stream that encounters rocks and rushes now and then

* a glimpse into the life of an artist – how ideas are born, how they are interpreted by the artist and take shape, and how the viewer interprets it

It deals with relationships, love, loss/grief and society/culture. Loss can mean death and you can lose people and love and ideas and dreams because of the way you choices you make. The author discusses concepts like hysteria and eating disorders through the character, Violet. Auschwitz also comes up and though it is not explored deeply, it is lurking in the shadows throughout. (I cannot understand Auschwitz. It’s unreal.) The concept of changeling, where the real is substituted by a replica, is a recurring theme throughout the book appearing in paintings and in real life.

The protagonist is a 50 + male and though the author is a woman, you never doubt the voice. Though I have read women who’ve used male protagonists, I haven’t read too many female authors writing a first person narrative in a man’s voice. It is hard not to be drawn into the unraveling story. The most mundane details of existence are handled with a sophisticated hand and sits securely within the story, at no point does it seem unnecessary or slow down the narrative.

A good read.

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Finished Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword. Pakistan’s political scenario is shocking. How can it claim to be a democracy? Found the placement of pics interesting – Mir Murtaza sticking his tongue out and General Zia on the other page at the receiving end.

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Reading a million little pieces by James Frey, a drug addict who managed to break on through to the other side. Was published as a memoir but many facts were found to be embellished later. The style used is very Spontaneous Prose.

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It’s been a lousy 30 days or so. Heart failure (not mine), typhoid (I got not one but two strains of the virus) and my computer is throwing tantrums. Out of work and none in sight. I’ve dwindled in size too.

Meanwhile, I finished two books – Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (I started this more than a month ago) and Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.


Madame Bovary didn’t shock me with her amoral activities. It is the norm among most married women I know though it is done behind closed doors and most affairs die quietly and sometimes painfully and never see the light of day. But I couldn’t forgive her husband for being so lame, her lovers for abandoning her, the callous Homais and the church guy fighting over their views while she lay dead, and  Lhereux for instigating the events that drove her to her death and attending her funeral without a shred of guilt. The novel reminded me of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The women are shredded to bits and judged but everyone else walks away without blame.

I read The Lost Symbol as I was struck by typhoid and didn’t have the energy to look for a book and it was out there on the popular books shelf so I grabbed it. I have read The Da Vinci Code, which was interesting and the controversy surrounding it made it better than it was. Digital Fortress was blah. The plot of Lost Symbol is constructed in a manner that is similar to The Da Vinci Code and the ‘secrets’ were not as alluring.

I have started reading an interesting book by Siri Hustvedt called What I Loved. It is packed with insights on individuals and relationships and paintings and painters. I just finished the first part of the book. I am trying to read and think and really understand it but I can’t read it that way especially when i like what i am reading.