Friday, July 01, 2005

Book tag

Nobody ever thought of book-tagging me. Why am I so unliterary and dumb? Why? Why? (Said in the desperate manner perfected by darling Bridget Jones, my fiction alter-ego. I know, I know, all women say so, but with me, it’s like, uncanny. But more on that later). The point is, NOBODY, not even my so-called friends from Delhi’s lit journo circle (in a very loose sense of the word; what I actually mean is the people, including myself, who used to frequent sundry book launches together to get drunk on free booze and laugh at everybody else present and act fashionably cynical) thought of book tagging me. Sniff.

So I will do it on my own. Firstly, though, I must confess that like every one who likes to think of themselves as ‘serious readers’, I haven’t read half the books I feel I ought to have. And most of the time, when I get my hands on such books, they turn out to be completely unreadable. I'm not saying they really are, but maybe I’m too dumb to enjoy them or something. (God, how I love being self-loathing and uncomplimentary towards self). Lately, I have decided to give up the pretence and just read what I enjoy reading. Like Harry Potter 5, which I am currently devouring for the third time in preparation of Book 6, the coming of which is one of the high points of my life right now.

So here goes:

Total Number of Books I Own: Between the pardner and myself, anywhere between 1000 and 1500.

Last Book I Bought:
Them by Joyce Carol Oates. Had never read Oates before, haven’t finished the book yet and am not likely to. On the other hand, I just might. It's a bit depressing, but I think I will give it another try.

Last Book I Read:
Re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary and was astounded by similarities between said diary writer and self. Oh, I’ve said that already, haven’t I?

Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me:

I think when you talk about books that mean a lot to you, you tend to go back to the ones you read when you were growing up. I was surprised to find how many Bengali books I was thinking of, though my Bengali reading has been pretty erratic of late.

1.Badshahi Aangti by Satyajit Ray: One of the first Feluda books I read (was 10 or so), which led to my falling promptly and violently in love with the then 28-year-old Feluda, for whom I’ve nursed this secret passion all my life. Was very disappointed by Ray’s not talking about Feluda’s love life at all – used to spend hours imagining myself as this grown-up female side-kick who has a subtle yet passionate romance with him.

2.The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger: Quite possibly my favourite book of all time. What can I say about it? Only how it touched me personally. Read it when I was 16, just the right age, I should think, and found it so impossibly funny and touching that it quite broke my heart. Resolved then and there not to grow up to be phoney – only suave as hell.

3.Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay: Those who have seen the movie have only appreciated Ray’s craft, not too many people know what a great, great writer Bibhutibhushan was. Even today, Tagore and Sarat Chandra are probably the two names people associate most commonly with Bengali literature, but Bibhutibhushan is in a different class. His writing is very undramatic, very understated and unlike in Tagore and Sarat Chandra, there are no larger-than-life characters. Just very ordinary people made unforgettable by this amazing writer.

4.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Usual reasons. Loved Scout Finch, loved Atticus, loved the undercurrent of sadness (but sadness minus morbidity, which is the way I like it) running through the book. It made me understand how all childhoods are a bit sad, when looked back upon.

5. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong: Again, read this at a very impressionable age. But Isadora Wing has always been somebody I have been lovingly indulgent towards and exasperated with all my life. The sequel was terribly disappointing, though.


At July 01, 2005 3:45 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

Not fair! When I made my book tag post you were away on your junket, ogling at unclad Chinese men, hence I didn't think of tagging you. Should've tagged your husband though (actually, why not admit it, I was just to lazy to tag anyone...)

At July 01, 2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

P.S. Are there really larger-than-life characters in Sarat Chandra? I don't know much about Bong literature myself but I'd always thought he was renowned as a chronicler of Little Lives himself.

At July 01, 2005 5:20 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

If Devdas and all the other characters in the eponymous novel are not larger-than-life, I don't know who is. Maybe the ones in Ayn Rand's unreadable rants posing as novels. Even Srikanto abounds with the sort of people you would only meet in books. Same holds for Parineeta. Yet, it's true that this holds true mainly for his romances. Most of his short stories set in rural Bengal (the ones Bongs from our generation are most familiar with, since they were part of all Bengali literature syllabi in school) are about Little Lives.

But the master of Little Lives in Bengali lit is undoubtedly Bibhuti babu. Wish there were good translations of his work available, or you would learn Bengali, and I could make you read Adarsha Hindu Hotel or Aparajito.

There's this passage in Aparajito in which Apu learns of his mother's death through a telegram from his village. He has been incredibly close to his mother all his life, yet he can't help this shameful feeling of relief at the welcome loss of a responsibility. It gave me goose pimples when I read it. For sheer complexity of character, I think BB scores each time.

At July 03, 2005 12:00 PM, Blogger motheater said...

Wow. Finally someone else who find Ayn Rand unreadable. I knew it was just a matter of time!

At July 04, 2005 11:33 AM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

I mistrust all books which carry blurbs saying this books has changed lives, given faith etc etc. Be it Ayn Rand or Paulo Coelho, to me they rank somewhere close to the How to Win Friends and Influence People types. God!

At July 06, 2005 12:10 AM, Blogger Dream Debutante said...

Blogger from Bombay sailing in... do you know there's a whole sub-species of humans who think people are impressed when they say they loooooove Ayn Rand and think they're so so Howard Roark. Also, every wannabe celeb says that (we have them on record!!)
And, do you know, I'm re-reading book 2 of Potter, in preparation too - want to pace it all out so that I finish the last book on the Friday eve of the book's release. And then I meet this kid today (9th standard, if you please) who says he was into Potter but switched off after he read Tolkein. Speaking of which, do you know, Tolkein's son Christopher got seriously dissed after he said some uncomplimentary stuff about the LOTR movie?

At July 06, 2005 11:03 AM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

All these precocious kids ought to be fed to Fluffy the three-headed dog. Got put off by reading Tolkien, it seems! I hate people who diss Harry Potter just because the series happens to be stupendously popular and it's marketing would put Paulo Coelho to shame.

At July 06, 2005 11:52 AM, Blogger Dream Debutante said...

But speaking of Paulo Coelho, he's the next Ayn Rand. Honestly!


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