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.

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I loved the title of the book – Walking Towards Ourselves. Aren’t we all doing just that?

A compilation of stories about being a woman in India, the book features writers like Urvashi Butalia, Annie Zaidi, Mitali Saran and more. It is edited by Catrionna Mitchell. In the foreword, Namita Gokhale concludes that these tales ‘…remind us we are each other’s stories’.

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square peg round hole, mitali saran

It is not all dark. It is not all hopeless. There is strength, mirth and light too.

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tick tock, tishani doshi

The stories are forthright conversations on choosing to stay unmarried or childless, on restrictions and freedoms, on gender fluidity, on the inexplicable obsession and value placed on light-coloured skin, and more.

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karaikal ammaiyar and her closet of adornments, sharanya mannivannan

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black, rosalyn d’mello

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beyond memories, salma

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tick tock, tishani doshi

© Anuradha Prasad, 2016

If it was love I was looking for, I found it early in the year. That it should be a book comes as no surprise, at least not to me. I came across this delightful little novella quite accidentally – Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader – a funny and charming read. If you have ever wondered what the fuss was about reading, you find the answers in these pages as the Queen of England (no less) discovers the joys of reading much to the distress of her nation.

But really, the book is about reading. Why we read. How we read. How reading changes us, our views. How we progress as readers – from simple pleasure to insights, discriminating reading to clarity of thought, finding one’s own voice to writing. There are also those who having never discovered the joys of reading can be quite hostile to one’s reading habit. I was tempted to note down my favourite sections but gave up soon enough as I realized I would have to copy the book in its entirety. First published in 2006, it has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.

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As I was breaking my ‘no library books for three months’ rule, I figured I might as well go all the way and borrowed two more. This is how I like to pick my books. Off the shelves. Not off reading lists in schools or bestseller lists or reading challenge lists or classics-you-must-read lists. Though I did consider a few of these lists as I felt some discipline may be required to get some serious reading done this year. Sometimes one book leads the way to another.

Here’s what I plan to read the first half of 2015.

  1. The Gathering – Ann Enright
  2. The Double Life of Anna Day – Louise Candlish (when I hear chick lit, flimsy is what comes to mind. but thankfully the writing was not flimsy and it was a nice read)
  3. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennet (enjoyed it immensely. will buy a copy)
  4. Walden – Henry Thoreau (thought it should be read during a holiday in the hills. well, never mind.)
  5. Kim – Rudyard Kipling (recommended by Ruskin Bond in some article or book)
  6. Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson (love Bryson’s humour)
  7. The Big New Yorker Book of Cats (cats and literature…hand me a cup of chai and we are set)

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  1. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast led me to this and the book was a gift from my Secret Santa.)
  2. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing (started the book but realized I need to write in it as I read, so bought my own copy)
  3. The Places that Scare You – Pema Chodron
  4. The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Thoreau (wrote about it in an article about top travel books to read. thought I would read it on a train journey but one can’t wait for perfect circumstances)
  5. Green Hills of Africa – Ernest Hemingway (not very sure if I will enjoy it)
  6. Life a User’s Manual – George Perec
  7. Old Path White Clouds – Thich Nhat Hanh (the story of Buddha. though I have never felt inclined to follow any religion, if I had to choose one, it would be Buddhism)

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  1. Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Alas Rojas (I wanted to read this ever since I read a poem about Frida. I always thought of her as a strong woman but the more I learn about her, the less sure i am)
  2. Traveller’s Life – Eric Newby (another of my favourite travel writers)
  3. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi – Geoff Dyer (read Paris Trance last year and liked it enough to want to read more by Dyer)
  4. Bridget Jones Mad about the Boy – Helen Fielding (loved the first Bridget Jones Diary. I must have read it a several hundred times for more than a few belly laughs. I hope this won’t disappoint)
  5. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (simply because I came across a quote from it that I used to write copy for a bracelet with 42 stones.)

© Anuradha Prasad

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Writing Takeaways:

  • Own your work, suspend judgment, share it, let it go
  • Acknowledge sources of inspiration
  • The wheels are always turning even when the page is blank
  • Don’t make it about other people

Books:

Here are just two of the fabulous writing/creativity books acquired and added to a book collection that urgently requires a book shelf and desperately needs to be read –

  • Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (While Goldberg is Zen-sparse, Lamott’s writing is meat and potatoes – love them both)
  • Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit

Reading Highlights:

The number of books read this year has plummeted as my attention span has gone off on an unannounced jaunt. Quite possibly with my Muse. What I enjoyed –

  • May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude
  • Joanne Harris’ Five Quarters of the Orange
  • Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl
  • Julie Orringer’s How to Breathe Underwater

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  • Ruth L. Ozeki’s A Tale for the Timebeing
  • Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
  • Andrew Miller’s Pure

Screen Highlights:

  • Shirley Valentine
  • The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
  • Downton Abbey

Books on their way right now (have waited a long time for these two. got lucky and found them at 70% off…ohhh joy!) –

  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo
  • The Big New Yorker Book of Cats

Best Day Out:

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  • A vineyard tour (great company, good wine and life in soft focus!)

People Adored: Nil

© Anuradha Prasad

Ruth Ozeki’s ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ was full of coincidences. I am not sure if coincidence is the word. It has a cat called Pesto, the protagonist lives in Whaletown and there are plenty of references to whales, there are wolves, there are secret diaries, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and the author herself is a Zen Buddhist priest, zazen, and a young girl Nao.

The book reminds me of Dhobi Ghat where an artist moves into a new apartment and finds video tapes through which he enters the mind and the life of a young Muslim wife. He laughs and cries and despairs with her and for her.

In ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ a Hello Kitty lunch box is washed up on the shores of a Canadian island soon after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan where it is discovered by a novelist, Ruth. There is a diary bound within Marcel Proust’s ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’, letters in Japanese and a book with French notes. In these pages, Ruth meets Nao who takes her through the past, present and future.

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…an evening at Blossoms.

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Blossoms

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Blossoms

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The Loot

Mostly books on places, writing and writers. I am reading Han Suyin and May Sarton for the first time. My last random find was Knut Hamson.

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.