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.”

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Admirable Women

I am a people person who loves to know what the other person’s life is like and their desires, dreams, struggles, passions, dislikes intrigue me. My inquisitiveness will see no end and this drives the sympathiser in me. Every now and then I find myself in depths of some person’s story, hoping and hating with them. Wikipedia is my constant companion that I turn to during my leisurely hours and read on endlessly about people who I’ve heard and not. Biographies are like friends to me. The people in them seem more like one of my own and I treasure the experience.

Women who veer off the conventional margins of life are the one’s who most amaze me. And every time I hear or see them I feel invigorated to strive for more. The reason these woman evoke such reverence is because they have transcended their personal and social limitations and combats and have dared to look beyond. More often than not we find people who say a lot about them and some are even cynical about these achievers. But then again these women have shown that only look straight ahead of them.

Oprah Winfrey

In my list of favourites, Opera Winfrey figures surely at the top. The hardships she faced in her early years are shocking and sad. For someone who was abused at the age of nine she has really showed the world, this chauvinistic one, the power of a woman. We all love her show and have been following it very dearly. It is her courage and empathizing nature that has brought her where she is today. She has been a great inspiration for me ever since I stopped watching Blue’s Clues. Even her voice has something very genial and genuine about it that one can listen to her for hours. And combined with stories she brings to light it’s just one amazing ride. Another thing for a book lover like me is her book club and its recommendations. I have sincerely read most of her recommendations. The acclaimed book, The road by Cormac McCarthy, The Heart is a lonely hunter by Carson McCullers, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen are some of my favourites from her recommendations. Yet another aspect that I really admire in Oprah is her spirituality. The spiritual journey of an individual is often fleeting and inconsistent and I take every opportunity to nourish my spiritual hunger from every source I can get. Her web posts are very convenient to get to and read and ponder about. Oprah is one amazing woman who I shall always love and admire. Ironically I haven’t got to her autobiography as yet and I sincerely hope to read it very soon.

Samantha Brown

Then the other woman who comes to my mind when I think of the admirable sort is Samantha Brown. At her age I wonder if I’ll be able to do my groceries decently! Though many like to term her life as ‘lucky’ I refrain from it. I believe that she is truly blessed by God Almighty for getting to travel the world like that only happens to one in a million. It requires extreme physique, mental stamina for a woman to hop about from continent to another. I wouldn’t be surprised if Travel Channel aired a new series, “Passport to Pluto” with Samantha gleefully going on about it “icy surface”. Again her voice is magnetic and is my absolute favourite too. I just realised that I seem to love women with great voices. Or maybe it’s a coincidence, But whatever it is Samantha is simply admirable. I do not think I have watched any other show as many times as I have watched, Great Hotels, Passport to Europe and Girl meets Hawaii. I love her language which is as exotic as the places she visits and of course her dressing style. Her sense of humour which is perfect in timing and meaning as well sets her apart from the rest of the clan. Most of all its her courage that truly exhorts me. For a to-be journalist this is the first thing that I take from her.

Barkha Dutt, the super-charged, intrepid Indian journalist is another one in my list. She has every high honour to her name that a woman can possibly be garnered. Her passion for journalism purely has taken her from her humble beginnings to national fame. Fear is something Barkha I assume has never seen for where have you heard of a young woman from a conventional society report from a war live. This commendable feat brought her a lot of acclaim and popularity. She has a clever way with words and a compassionate way with people. These are the two foremost qualities that I see in her and wish to imbibe. In an era where journalists are scorned as being political and corrupt Barkha sets an example for clean news making and reporting.