Monday, July 21, 2014

The One Star book Review Guessing Game

There's a tumblr that picks the best of Good Read's one star reviews (there must be a tumblr for everything). It is GOLD. No, I won't link to it just now because then you'll know which books these reviews refer to.

What I want to do is to play a guessing game. We'll start with something easy:

"Maybe my main issue with this book was just that it wasn’t lighthouse-y enough.”

Ok, you got that (surely you did?). Try these:

“I wish I could meet a lifelong love by vomiting through his window.”

“Even if you read this book 500 times, it has always the same plot line.”

"it might be a satyr and all but I did not like it."

“not interested in books about Satin.”

And from my top 5:

“I didn’t really get the cookie thing.”

“I don’t know if my book was incomplete or if this whole thing was some kind of weird joke.”

“Reading this story is like taking a cold bath with someone you dislike.”

“A 24-foot dirty old man creeps down the streets late at night, when all the grown-ups are asleep, peering in through little children’s windows. No, not the subject of a court case, just a momentously popular piece of fiction by the much beloved [name redacted].

“HOW MANY BOOKS HAS SHE WRITTEN ANYWAY HUNDREDS RIGHT ? WAY TOO MANY I TELL YOU — STOP THIS WOMAN”   

Okay: you can start guessing now.*

__

*Answers here

July

The end of June and all of July is like a ferris wheel that slows down as it reaches the top, is immobile for a minute and then hurtles back down.

July is like the stairs that remain to be climbed.

I can't wait for the rest of the year to begin.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reading over, reading back

For most of last year, I faithfully kept a journal. I didn't write in it every day, but I made a concerted effort towards putting my thoughts and observations down on paper (yes, paper; not screen). There were off days - even weeks - when I didn't write a thing and hid the journal from myself so I didn't feel guilty about my slacking off.

At intervals, I wondered how I'd ever be able to find anything if I should want it later. I devised a method by which quick ideas, lines I wanted to use in poems and so on, could be identified. All obvious strategies, but not having kept a journal in years, I needed to reinvent the wheel.

As it happened, I never looked at anything I wrote again. Until this morning. I wasn't looking for anything specific; I was idling through those old pages. I admired my writing which, out of respect for this shiny new object called a journal, was immaculate; I noticed mood shifts and how they related to gaps in writing days; I noticed I'd left myself allusions to things I refused to even put on paper at the time of writing.

It was and is an interesting snapshot of a person at a moment in time. If I was anyone of any importance, I could imagine that my journals would be an invaluable resource. I realised afresh, that I would have to devise a time frame and method by which this object could be destroyed before it found its way to other people.

If reading over and reading back casual writing can make me squirm - as it invariably does - then it can only be useful as catharsis*. Yes? Or am I to understand by it that I shouldn't be so involved with and tied to the production of my persona? Sometimes I feel one way and sometimes another. (I also know that while I might leave the blog be, I will definitely destroy the journals.)

What do you lot think?  

__

*It occurred to me that photographs also make me squirm. The closer in time they are to the present, the more I dislike them for not coinciding exactly with my self-image. For instance, I can now look at the big hair, big glasses and pleated jeans and the quantities of plastic jewellery of my teen years and not turn a hair, horrific though those images are. I've never kept any letters I wrote from that era - that is to say, the parents didn't - so I have no way of knowing how I'd react to words from another decade. I suspect I'd be tolerant enough. 

Call no woman happy until.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

6 Down (Cryptic)

Once again it's a Thursday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Goosebump Test*

I am reading Seamus Heaney's Finders Keepers and it is lovely so this means that I dip into it one essay at a time, sometimes less, take a break to breathe and/or make notes (Tessa in Magic Flutes: 'Breathe!" said Tessa, shocked. "I don't need to breathe when I am with you!"**).

Today's reading is an essay called 'Learning from Eliot'. Now, Eliot is an influence impossible to elude in one's early poetry writing. But before writing, there was reading and - because Donne and Dante weren't our modern poets, though they were his - impossible to measure the impact his poetry had on all of us late-teens.

Heaney was prescribed 'The Hollow Men' and 'Journey of the Magi' for his A levels and, as with all students of poetry at that age, the study of Eliot was a wildly different thing from the experience of Eliot. (Just as an aside: we also had 'Magi' but we had 'Preludes' instead of 'The Hollow Men', arguably 'easier' from an exam point of view).

Upon his first encounter with 'The Hollow Men', Heaney describes his reactions thus: "What happened within my reader's skin was the equivalent of what happens in an otherwise warm and well-wrapped body once a cold wind gets at its ankles."There's a lot more that's quotable and you should just go read Heaney.

But the bellwether body as a tool of experiencing poetry is an idea that I am totally on board with. Someone should theorise it and I can habeas my corpus as evidence any time someone reads a certain kind of poetry that is my own particular, antique flute.

I mean, long before it is time to extract what Heaney calls 'the pacifier of a paraphraseable meaning', it is the body that experiences poetry, or the poetry in writing. I call this the Goosebump Test and it has nothing to do with R.L.Stine, I assure you.

Symptoms may vary, but anything that induces chills, fevers, hair standing on end, unspecified liquefactions, the inability to stay still and the illogical desire to embrace the entire world or hurl objects at people or things in order to discharge some excess - all of this and more, I include in the Goosebump Test.

(Needless to say, it is applied when you or someone else asks the question, "Yes, but is it poetry?" Caveats include the acknowledgement that not all poetry can be detected by the application of this test.)

Anyway. Back to Heaney, to whom I also owe my Word of the Day: 'simony'.

_

*Variations that include the words 'pimple' or 'flesh' just don't work. The first makes me giggle, and second - though sumptuous - is a little too avid for accuracy.

**Ok, fine. So I've been re-reading Eva Ibbotson and can quote without referring to the book. Is that a problem?


Saturday, June 21, 2014

EA back on the Aleph site

Sorry about pulling the previous post. I changed my mind about having temporary moods out forever online.

In other news, as promised, Aleph has sorted out their web issues and Escape Artist is back up on the site.

To all those whose comments I haven't responded to, I'm a terrible person these days and thanks for the congratulations and for bothering to go through two layers of verification for a wall of silence.

Okay. Enough abjectness. Here's a cute donkey instead:




Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Escape Artist

I don't know how I have managed to sit on this piece of news all these months and weeks without exploding: my second collection of poetry, Escape Artist, published with the support of the Jehangir Sabavala Foundation, is out from Aleph Book Co.

Update 2: It appears that - Escape Artist being the only book of poetry Aleph has done - it isn't possible at the time to list it on their website because of categorisation issues. But Aleph has a Facebook page (which I'm sure those of you on FB can find without any help from me) and there are the links (see below) to Flipkart and Amazon. I will of course, post about any readings scheduled. 

[Info etc to be had on Flipkart and Amazon. Also, for those of you who are dismayed by the number of days between order and delivery, I only just got the books myself; of course it will take time before you lot can get a copy!].

But for now, here's how it looks in my home.






(When I imagined writing this post, somehow I thought it would be longer, but really - what else is there to say? Apart from thanks to innumerable people, some of whom I've thanked in the acknowledgements. Actually, there's an idea: maybe I could do a director's cut of acknowledgements.)




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This is not a marriage (or: metaphors, like similes, prove inadequate)

This blog is X number of years old. I don't remember how old it is. I care that it exi(s)ts, that I still post here, that one or two of you read it when you could just as well mail me, because that's how long it has been, that we have exchanged mails and talked and even met offline, and I don't know how to end this sentence.

Which, if you want a metaphor for this blog, has to be better than the tired blog-as-marriage one. Been there, done that.

Anyway.

Just to, kind of, put a cake in front of it and say, "Well done. You made it through another year."

And also to put, I don't know, bhel puri in front of you lot and say, "Thanks for coming back."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

simile, not epic enough

Kanakambaram seeds that have been watered in high summer are like that older kid you used to know on the playground who slapped you while smiling playfully so that you could not allege bullying even though it stung like heck.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Always half-asleep

Niggling feeling that I was given messages of doom while I lay half-asleep and I failed to pay them any heed and now it's too late. What remedial action can there be when it's doom anyway?

It must have to do with reading a book with an escalating body count. I should have read impenetrable science or economics for the right amount of torpor as a prelude to deep sleep.

Instead, I lay half-asleep until I became half-awake when the trucks arrived. From the sound of it,  they had brought metal in preparation for what is going to be a whole day's roof-laying today. At 5am, two men were sleepily hammering at something on the not-yet-laid roof.

(When I say the roof will be 'laid', where on the spectrum from egg to person does a roof - well - 'lie'?)

Somewhere, over all the sounds that continue to overwhelm sleep, is the more-insistent scent of Peltophorum. The roads are carpeted a sulphurous yellow and when I lay awake at night, trying desperately to sleep, to keep the noises off but welcome the scents in, I look for that colour behind my eyelids.