Thursday, August 7, 2008

I am a lover of……

A friend of mine, a literature aficionado herself, has been suggesting that I write something about the books that I have read off late. Okay, let me back track. A few of my friends (from my boarding school days) and I share an intriguing interest in reading. We shred every book or movie with cynicism, bandy words, douse it with our personal opinions, embellish it with exuberant words, and carve up our views with ornamental yet coherent details. This process brings to light a side of me that I never knew even existed. Thanks guys. Your interesting perspective – either entirely different or cosmically alike to my own opinion, always paves the path for an exhilarating experience.

Anyway, this week seems like the perfect time for today’s post. My heart craves to write an ode to art, literature, music, philosophy etc. etc. I mean, these elements swathe me with bliss and just complete me. When in their company, I have this implausible sense of belonging. In fact, both my husband and I enjoy their enamoring world. I might be a little over the top (blame it on the artist in me), but he is a logical lover of the arts, music, literature himself. To quote one of my favorite writers, Oscar Wilde, "No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."

The past few weeks, to my pleasure, revolved immensely around personal enrichment; one of the many reasons I love New York. The Salvador Dali exhibit at MoMA (I am a big fan of his surreal work. It’s all about perception and interpretation); an art exhibit by a budding Indian artist at a cozy gallery in Manhattan; the opening night of my friend’s art exhibit ( NYC dwellers, I urge you to check this exhibit; a trip to the poet, W.H. Auden’s neighborhood; my own involvement with words and the literary community—when the time is right, I will announce the details of the last one right on this blog.

Without further ado, I’d like to dedicate this post to my comrade, J, ( and to the last few books that we have read, examined, comprehended, and conferred about —“Unaccustomed Earth”, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.

Let me cut to the chase: I cherished the last one—“A Thousand Splendid Suns”. The book touched me like no other. In so many ways, the book took me through a journey of humility. I felt fortunate for the privileged life I lead or the basic things I take for granted. I cherished the effortless yet evocative language.

The second book: I am an ardent fan of Gabriel Gárcia Márquez’s work. I swoon with delight every time someone mentions his book, “Love in the Time of Cholera”. His command over language is astonishing. I vividly remember the first line from the book: “the smell of bitter almonds reminded him of the fate of his unrequited love”. To me, the opening line conveyed everything I wanted to know about the book. Having said that, I was appalled to read “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. I yearned for the taste of Márquez’s work but in vain. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it.

The third book: As far as “Unaccustomed Earth” goes, I have one request for Jhumpa Lahiri—discard the cape of gloom and humdrum and use fresh themes and sentiments. I thought “Interpreter of Maladies: Stories” was melancholic but very adequately written. I applauded the detailing of the characters and the issues faced by this niche community of Indian immigrants. But, my words of praise stop right there. I read “The Namesake” and then “Unaccustomed Earth” and it felt déjà vu. Like many of my friends, I cannot take stories revolving around challenges of assimilation or the dark, miserable, forlorn, timid yet feisty protagonist anymore. Lahiri may have a way with emotions, but is unilateral in expressing them. I believe in Oscar Wilde’s words, “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

What I found in common between all the three writers was their ability to flesh out feelings with a bit disquieting but eloquent choice of words. Is the experience of being an immigrant that influential that somewhere all three of them seems to have a common exacerbated problem -- the feeling of “lost”? Well, I end my tirade here, but I’d be interested in what others think of these books.

More until next time.

Copyright © 08.07.2008

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.” - Oscar Wilde


J said...

Hey! I read the post. Nice one.

debug22 said...

Well-written and entertaining blog post. One suggestion (need not take if counter to your style): it got progressively easier to read as it reached the end. You might want to limit the big words in your own literary works except for either satirical or scholarly purposes.

Would that I had enough time to a) contribute to your book club by reading something, b) make concrete my own writing plans! Your efforts to do both are commendable.

LB said...

Very well written blog, I really enjoyed reading it.

sc said...

Thanks for sharing. It's a great post. I need to read some more and be inspired.

SS said...

quite inspired to read A Thousand Splendid Suns. you are lucky to get the time and opportunity to read so many books.