In my day dreams in which I imagine myself in a number of scenarios (Including the one in bed with Katrina), the one which is feel is achievable (In real life) is to write a book review. I am often surprised to find people around me who don’t read much and whenever some guy wants to take up a new book I am usually the guy who they ask for a few comments first. But my reading is not structured, its pretty eclectic, so people often frown when they find out that I have not read this famous blah blah author.
I often think(read daydream) how good it would be if I quit my job and just make my living writing reviews, because I read on an average 3 to 4 books per week. But who has the energy to bring that change, recently a bug of short stories has made home in my wobbled brain, and talking about brains; It was only yesterday when my sister called me up and said that she saw a brain of an addled person in her lab. I asked how you differentiate by seeing a person’s brain whether it’s addled or normal. She said that if your frontal lobe is a bit deformed you are abnormal and if it’s highly convoluted like a kernel of Walnut you are smart or a criminal. I wish I could know how my frontal lobe looks (without suicide of course). Let’s see as Agnishikha climbs up the ladder of her chosen profession, she may find an answer to this request , but by that time I believe the world would have gotten the answer (as my flat mates got it). Let’s leave that to posterity
(In between writing I have received a mail about the open complaints against my name, let it remain unread for I have something very interesting to share and a life of my own too)
So, let’s come back to short stories. Well frankly, the stories with the most surprising endings belong to the two authors who have been at least incarcerated twice by the judicial system of their own countries for genuine crimes. Both of them were slippery in handling large amount of cash and ended up as KONVICTS. Yes you are wrong, I was talking about the Living legend Lord Archer and the master of twists (Not Nano), O’Henry. If you haven’t read Henry’s “After 20 years”, please contact me so that I can unfriend you on Facebook and delete your Bio/contact details from my brain and my Tab.
It’s such a compelling story that the first time I read my mouth was agape after reading the twist in the last line. It was marvelous and he did it after spending 5 years in jail for a crime he indeed had committed (what were you expecting). And even after that he has written quite a number of stories like “A voice of the city”, it’s about the Big Apple and how a city like a human (genuine one) has voice which we all in our overtly dramatized LIVES often IGNORE to our peril. He has both touched the inner cords of human bonding as well as handled the abstruse subjects equally well. He is one of my all-time favorites in the short story genre. The only reason I don’t have his books up my shelf is because they all are available online. I don’t know but it’s something related to the loneliness in jail that people often come out with a book. Like Gandhi wrote most of his best work in jail, Hitler also found Jail a place where he could finally write down all the bullshit he could ever think of, and even JL Nehru our Casanova cum Scholar leader wrote a huge part of Discovery of India in the same barracks.
But with the overflowing jails with no privacy at all, I hardly think any literary diamond can be forged in that coal mine in today’s time.
Let’s move to London now to discuss about Archer, his collections like “there by Hang’s a tale” produces both a feeling of envy and admiration for the pain he undergoes to present a simple tale in a way that can raise your hair to the end, change the color of your cheeks and ears (make them red of course) or increase your heart rate. All these have actually happened with me while reading his tales.
My friend Sankalp had once bought the entire collection of his short stories in a single volume; it has a sexy blue colored cover page with Archers name written in gold, it’s like a manual for story writing for budding lazy pseudo writers as I love to imagine myself while spending 12 hours a day involved in my JOB. In his introduction he often reveals that whether this particular story has been inspired by real incident or a product of his powerful imagination. So, it makes them even more interesting to read. Often due to his fame as a writer people come forth to confide in him their life stories which he then cooks adding all the spices he has up his sleeve and makes it palatable for us to relish. It’s his gift to convert any simple anecdote into an unforgettable story and his sales reflect that.
Now let’s turn back to the Indian subcontinent where “genuine” authors still make a pittance and people like Bhagat rule the roost which their half-baked pseudo Autobiographies in premier institution, I wonder if the setting of his 5 points would have been some local college and not the mighty IIT how would it have appealed to the youngsters. It somehow confirms the theory someone had propagated before that Indian youth are divided into two groups who make it in to the IITs and those who don’t and waste their lives feeling guilty about that. But when I read the shit Bhagat Publishes all my share of guilt vanishes and I feel pity for all the institutions whose name he has sullied by putting his bullshit on Paper. Had I been the President of this country I would have hung him upside down from the very gate of his college for the rest of his life so as to serve as an example to all those who think book sale is everything and not the content.
But apart from Bhagats/Roys/Kohli’s we have the legendary Satyajit Ray sir, who apart from a world class director (I am yet to watch any of his movies though) has written such an amazing collection of stories that you wonder how did he find so much time to do all these things and also excel at them, when I can’t find time to even visit the local gym. I only recently discovered his collection in Pune, Pimpri to be precise. My friend Vikram who works in Pune plant took me to a crossword near his flat and by chance my roving eye fell on the cover of Satyajit’s Feluda stories. Feluda is the name of the protagonist, not that ice cream with noodles which was served in my hostel every wednesday. Feluda is based on Sherlock Holmes but it has more focus in describing the crime scene rather than the cold logic for which Sherlock Holmes still sells like hot dim sums, well thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, he has actually brought the character alive. I wouldn’t have actually purchased it but the crossword actually allowed me to tear its Poly packing, so after doing this ceremony ,no bookaholic would replace it back on the shelf .I had to purchase it.And that my friends is my answer to the question, my mom a PhD in Home finance asks "where are the savings from your salary?" and I always end up cutting a sorry figure.
To be continued……..with the “actual” review of “Memoirs of a Geisha” and why it has made me hate Japanese Culture and way of life…..till then…learn urdu