Mixed Bag: Books and links

It’s been a while since I chronicled my reads here at The Literary Shack. And the itch to update you all on my progress has finally turned into an urge to put my fingers on the keyboard. Talking about typing reminds of this beautiful post I read recently on Londoner’s Musings on The Delight of Handwriting. It got me yearning to hold a fountain pen and write something too. Agree or not there is this impregnate romanticism  in writing by hand with a treasured pen that is missing while you type on a computer.

And then I read these books in this couple of months gone by. Somehow all except one of these are collections of short stories! I am no disciplinarian when it comes to ticking books off my stack for it is my whim for the day that picks the books. And owing to this I’ve had to suffer a slow and long-drawn period of completing them giving me more time than I required for thinking, making notes, loving, getting bored,etc. So I thought of just giving you tiny bits of what I thought about them for I’ve spent way too much time already than I can afford to.

The first one to get whim-picked was Vintage Stuff by Tom Sharpe of which I’ve made a mention in one of my earlier posts. Reading it reminded me of watching something like Dennis the menace and I obviously didn’t want to let go of it. Ambrosially speaking, I read it like savouring each and every piece of a Chicago style pizza. It is witty, outright humorous and altogether a heartily enjoyable package. If you’re in need of some bumps you can sit snugly in a chair with this book and yet fly off it in bouts of laughter.

Then I read something pretty uncharacteristic of me. I read a book by Jeffery Archer! I picked up Twelve Red Herrings hastily on my way back home after a tiresome episode of this and that. And it was enjoyable for a best-seller for once! Now some would call my statement as prejudiced but I have my reasons. Anyway, the stories had racy plots, vibrant characters and twelve red herrings! What made the reading all the more pleasurable was the fact that I could keep wondering who this mysterious V.B is to whom the yellow, dog-eared copy belonged to! Trial and Error, Chunnel Vision are some of my favourites from the collection. Not to mention the latter did remind me of Luncheon by Maugham. I would recommend this one to anyone in need of a book to unclog blocks of both kinds- reader’s and writer’s.

Difficult Pleasures by Anjum Hassan is another of those profound books whose presence doesn’t leave you for days after you’re done with it. It has a story for every kind of  cosmopolitan you can find these days in India. There’s the loner, the uncanny artist, the mourner, the dissatisfied wife, the unloved kid and the like. What sets this one apart lies in its form: of short stories, its tone: one of melancholy and pensiveness and its clarity: of thought. I think we’ve found a very good writer in the short story genre and can hope to get lots more from her.

I’ve also been reading a lot on the internet off late which should explain the Three-books-in-two-months syndrome(of course with other added complications) and thought of leaving you with some of the links I found were worth my while.

~ The White Correspondent’s Burden by Jina Moore

The argument about journalism from Africa is often whittled into two camps, Afro-pessimists vs. Afro-optimists. But these binary camps, too, miss that Africa is many complex things, simultaneously. In our news broadcasts and our headlines, though, it’s usually framed by just one static thing: suffering.

~ Reading Rants: Jane Eyre is not submissive at The Compulsive Reader

The problem I have with the super sexy Jane Eyre is the fact that, as I stated in my previous post, she holds to her convictions. She stands by her values and living with Rochester, having a relationship (sexual or romantic) with him is wrong because he already has a wife. Sure, we all are screaming at her to just FORGET THE CRAZY WIFE AND KISS HIM ALREADY but she doesn’t, and that makes the ending so much sweeter. If Jane HAD given in to Rochester (and we wouldn’t have blamed her, really), she wouldn’t have been the Jane we all fell in love with and rooted for and cried for. And without Jane and her amazing character, Jane Eyre wouldn’t work as a novel.

~ 7 Essential Books on Music, Emotion and the Brain at Brain Pickings

~ Tale for our Times at The Hindu

A metaphorical and visual delight, the book is set in an age when a group of rabbits live in happy freedom from their natural predators and are busy violently taming Nature. Some of them seek to do away with warren dwelling, and liberate themselves from the tyranny of old ways.

~ Will Self: ‘I dont write for readers’ at The Guardian

“You can’t go on pretending that the writer is an invisible deity who moves around characters in the simple past,” he says. “I just can’t do that stuff. It’s lies. The world isn’t like that any more. The world is really strange. It’s not to be explained by ‘He went to the pub’. You cannot capture what’s going on with that form, to my way of thinking. You can create a divertissement, you can create a very fine entertainment, but you can’t reach any closer to any kind of truth about what it is to exist.”

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance…

Clock

Clock (Photo credit: sleepinyourhat)

The sunday newspaper brought good cheer this morning with its awaited literary supplements. It is something I eagerly look forward to reading. But beautiful things come only in small packets and this particular supplement is published only once a month. And on beholding this month’s copy today I was overjoyed and instantly delved into its contents which as always had plenty to rout up from its depths. I discovered a completely new writer whom I felt I would really love without even knowing so much as what his books dealt with. And as the theme of his latest book surfaced in the article I knew exactly where my next investment had to go( The book happens to be Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry, if you were just curious to know).

After reading about five to six articles I had to restrict myself from finishing all the other inviting pieces for I have to sustain myself on this six paged ration for a whole month. And before I could indulge myself in gleaning information from around the world and my city the clock struck eleven! There was still a day’s work to be done with all the added obligatory activities to be performed being the diligent thing that I am. Where have those precious days where reading a warm newspaper was the only activity that Sundays called for? And of course cutting out fresh squares of articles for the clip book collection too.

The ubiquitous time crunch just revealed its presence to me yet again. At a time when I am already grappling with the grievous fact that my reading time has diminshed drastically being snatched away from my morning paper by sundry duties stung me bitter. That said there’s even less time for me to chronicle my thoughts on the things I read.

Off late I’ve been reading a lot online than offline. It’s always easier to steal a few minutes from work while using a computer. But with every underhand activity comes a peril. Here the danger lies in forgetting where I read a particular piece I adored. And even worse being unable to recall what I enjoyed reading so much altogether. So setting aside the greater grief of not being able to tick off books lying around my room in piles I thought to address this other issue which came with a plausible solution too. Several Google searches and conversations with the geeks concerned revealed Evernote, Pinterest, zoo something, etc as ideal apps to turn to.

But then again a little squirm arose from within. I saw yet another electronic versus traditional approach question surface. Can a mere cut-copy-paste action replicate the wholesomeness of taking notes by hand with the mind aligned on the same lines rather than focused on jumping to the next open tab on the screen?This really wouldn’t matter to a person with a reasonable amount of time to forage the net, pick, reason and ponder. But given the time constraints any solution to appease a self-proclaimed purist is far from the sight. I suppose such questions will continue to arise until the electronic approach completely converges with every aspect of life or it slowly disassociates itself fully. The former is bound to happen naturally or rather “unnaturally”.

So when we stand at the transition point where the direction of leap is uncertain attacking the problem at its heart is perhaps the best solution that I can think of. I simply have to make time. But how feasible is that? I don’t know. It’s as complex a question as the time we are living in.

Taking into account all these issues I’ve only arrived at this: It’s not an easy time to be a purist of any sort. And this: The spare time for those little joys in life is almost extinct.

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Note: The title is taken from one of my favourite poems by William Henry Davies.

Take Diversion

It shocks me when I think about how much I go fishing for author bios. In almost every literary magazine that I read there’s a blog address or email and it’s ever so easy to look them up on the net. And if such information is not available I make full use of my googling skills to pull up the person’s carefully isolated website. The reason I do that is simply because I get inspired by their stories. I’m always curious to know a bit more about the writer also for the reason that I can enjoy the person’s work better. If I know that the writer loves chocolate I can be sure that I can pull through the most boring or scary scene in his book. Also it guarantees bragging rights for me- “Hey, so you know Emily Awesome Writer loves Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream!”

Okay…yes. I couldn’t get as much reading done(I have fairly good reasons too) as I thought to be posting about it. So instead I’ll share some of my favourite author bio’s.

~ Elizabeth Eulberg – Here’s a writer you should read if you’re a part of JAJ because I simply loved her ‘Prom and Prejudice’

~ Kelcey Parker – Very witty

~ Elizabeth Gilbert – I love her and expect you would be reading it if you loved ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.

~ John Lescroart – A tale which which has to be read.

~ Miranda Dickinson – Musical Miranda I should say for there’s an album she’s done. Her new book has such a cute title, I’m excited to read it just for that.

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Jane Austen January: Five Links

I’m having an absolutely great time with Emma Woodhouse and her fun schemes. And I just dropped by from Hartfield to share these links which I thought would elevate the experience. Do visit them if you have some time to spare.

~ Pemberly – A site where you can meet lots of Austen fans, learn more about her and spend time.

~ Strange Girl – The best part of this site is the quiz in which you get to discover which Austen heroine you resemble. It’s fun, you know.

~ Jane Austen’s World – One passionate blog I must say.

~ Pemberly Couture – It’s a cool one where you buy some cute stuff. Also there are lots of little things to see and be happy about.

~ Jane Austen Centre – A useful website if you are a fan of Austen and live in England. It’s interesting to browse otherwise also.

Now I’m off to Hartfield again. Perhaps I’ll be just on time to catch the Knightley’s in conversation.

Jane Austen January: A beautiful scene

Hi there! I’m so happy that we are one day into the fest and its a lovely feeling for a person like me who’s almost always entrenched in the Victorian Era. Now enjoy the famous “Library Scene” from the movie Becoming Jane(2007) featuring Anne Hathway as Jane Austen.

Jane Austen Movie: Library Scene

Reading : RIP VI Challenge

I will be participating this year in the RIP VI reading challenge hosted at Stainless Steel Droppings. A good thriller is always enjoyable and being part of this challenge comes with the advantage of being able to share the experience too. I’ll be taking up the Peril the Second challenge which requires you to read two books in thriller/mystery/suspense/horror/gothic genres.

Gothic themes have always captured my fancy and re-reading Wuthering Heights would be great, I thought. But there’s always a new book to devour. So, I’m keeping my options open.

While I decide on the books, you may want to enter this cool challenge too. You may do so here.

Happy Reading!