Monday, August 31, 2009
Wishlist item 2, of course, is a necessity and an urgent one at that. I need bookshelves.
Recent acquisitions include:
1. Large number of Puffins dating from 1968-72. Lovely books they are, too. One Farjeon from way back when. More YA books from decades ago. These are cast offs I was happy to house.
2. More castoffs, this time books I'd once given away coming home to roost (I'd offered to donate them to some library but now they're sitting on my floor).
3. Loot from Amit's reading. Hachette gifted me reprints of Buchan, Haggard, Sapper, Wallace, Grey - all very exciting. Also Alex Rutherford.
This is not counting the books I take out and am too intimidated to put back. Every time I take out a book, the shelves seem to sigh with relief and wiggle around in the extra space. So the taken-out ones stay on the floor, or by my table, or on the bed.
I need more bookshelves! Basic, one-book-deep, many shelves high ones.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I will be chatting with him, very likely until the cows come home. At which point, Amit will be irresistibly drawn away from book events, talking lizards and high tea.
In the interests of keeping km from breaking out into hives, I am not posting the cover (with lizard) here.
Saturday, 29th August, 2009
Odyssey Bookstores, Vikrampuri, Karkhana, Secunderabad.
RSVP: +91-40-2789 0561.
Hosts: Hachette India and Odyssey.
See you there!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
A strange thing happened to Amar Kanwar around the year 2001. He had already established himself in alternative film circles, when a gentleman named Okwui Enwezor came to Delhi looking for artists. Enwezor, a thirty-something Nigerian who had made the United States his home, had been appointed the artistic director of the most important art exhibition in the world, Kassel's Documenta. He brought a distinctly political, postcolonial perspective to bear on his curatorial choices, and cast his net beyond artists who showed in galleries. He picked Amar Kanwar along with the Raqs Media Collective, leaving people in the art world befuddled. Documenta 11 part-financed Kanwar’s A Night of Prophecy, a film about poets in conflict zones, which was screened through the exhibition’s run in Kassel in 2002.
Kanwar had become a name to be reckoned with in two different worlds with two very different systems of financing. A typical independent documentary is funded by an NGO. The director, who doubles as producer, makes a certain amount up front, with further money coming through DVD sales and telecast rights. To make 5 lakh rupees, a director would have to sell 500 DVDs priced at 1000 rupees each, quite a tall order. The art world, on the other hand, depends on scarcity rather than volume. A video artist will make an edition of, say, ten prints of a video, to be sold for maybe 5 lakh rupees a pop. After the gallery commission, just two sales will provide the video artist the same amount of money that 500 DVDs got the documentary film maker.
It is no wonder that, during the art boom, many experimental film makers reinvented themselves as video artists. The boundaries between the two are blurry enough for the transition to be made without too many eyebrows being raised.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I usually have no trouble skipping to elsewhere in a book of poetry; I come back to intended structures later. With this book, though, I intend to begin at the beginning - a Preface that is dense and requires time - and go on until I reach an end.**
But for the moment, here's a part of his poem, 'About Cambridge':
About Cambridge they were never wrong
the old masters: for where they mostly lived
and wore their blazers out, happened to be
just beyond the cakeshop
where someone is always eating
opening a window or just cruising dully along
the great body of salty water
which is what one calls the protégé
one of those heavenly bodies that everyday
go by steering the fellowship through rapids
committees and quality audit
to a party taped on U-matic for ARDENT productions
a royal mirror of royalty
beyond the neatly-fenced perimeter
the folding tables and ice-buckets of summer
that is always happening elsewhere
as we poor shadows light up again
and move on
The rest of it here.
*What stone? This one:
**Data Shadow is the end, in a sense; it's the second half of an earlier collection - False Memory.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Chandrahas Choudhury: Arzee the Dwarf
Mimlu Sen: Baulsphere
Mridula Koshy: If It Is Sweet
Palash Krishna Mehrotra: Eunuch Park
Parismita Singh: Hotel at the End of the World
Preeta Samarasan: Evening is the Whole Day.
One graphic novel and one non-fiction (memoir? I don't know) makes this a year for fiction. I suppose this was inevitable; the selector's job is not to be representational. On the other hand, it depresses me a little: either not enough people are writing in different genres, or if they are those books are not their first ones or just not good enough.
At any rate, if the other books are anything like Chandrahas Choudhury's, Mridula Koshy's or Preeta Samarasan's, I'm happy.
Via a Facebook mail and Nilanjana.
The woman shook her head and moved one of the cans to one side. The attendant laboriously voided that purchase, and punched in new numbers. The recalculated total was $15.23. The woman shook her head again. It was clear she had only $15, not a penny more, and she thought for a moment, and then took one of the small loaves out of her pile. My thoughts were slow in catching up with me; perhaps I should have offered her the quarter.
Her new total was $14.56. I could see, as I have seen so many times before at this supermarket, but especially so this year, that there was a budget that had to be stretched, a modest one. The task was to come as close to that exact amount with as many items as possible. I imagined she was buying for a household.
So, we learn patience with each other. We let as much time as is needed go into counting money, estimating added tax, smoothing out rumpled food stamps, watching intently as the eyes decide between spaghetti and air-freshener, between canned peas and frozen spinach, the anxiety of an enforced triage. In the same torpor of hardship are the customers and the shop attendants. In the absence of money, time itself slows down.
I could use some of that patience just now.
After yesterday's rain, our water pipe appears to have broken. I'm hoping it's the water pipe and not the sewage. If it is the sewage, I think I will count my blessings, because we had closed the water inlet and the chances of all the water getting contaminated is minimal.
But since I suppose we can't take chances, we will have a dramatic and eventful weekend ahead.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
For four evenings, from Tuesday to Friday, I will be screening films at the Goethe Zentrum. The films will - broadly speaking - be about music, culture, identity and crossings.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I watched half a million people on Facebook do this 50 questions quiz - which includes prize gems such as When Did You Wake Up and What Time Did You Complete This Quiz (as if everyone just wakes up and starts doing FB quizzes; and as if this is supposed to say something about you*).
Though I tried to keep my lip curled, it began to hurt and then I decided to just get it over with. Somewhere in some ledger, you will find it under the head of Oh, What The Heck!
I don't know when I began to get snarky, but no doubt all the people I tagged will be able to tell you ( I still retained some sense and tagged only those who had already tagged me).
But this qs. #40 is what I'm talking about. It asked:
Do anything spontaneous lately?
I admit I had to think hard and this made me even more bad-tempered because it soon became clear that a) I hadn't done anything spontaneous, not really and b) the only example I could dredge up sucked so badly that it was time I took a vow.
It turned out that the last 'spontaneous' thing I'd done was to think I'd surprise my son by picking him up from school, but since he didn't know I was coming, he sat in the bus as usual (while I was chatting with someone) and left without me.
So much for kids making you want to be young again.
And before anyone says anything, of course it's the kid's fault. The alternative would be to admit that there's no point in doing anything spontaneous. And that wouldn't do at all, would it?
This pointless (and not entirely spontaneous) post is also to say that this blog will largely specialise in announcements for a while now.
Coming up: announcements about more workshops. Why they're called that I don't know, but whatever.
*Come to think of it, if they did it would say a lot about them.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Hosts: Tranquebar Press/Westland Ltd. in association with Prakriti Foundation.
Tuesday, 11th August 2009 at 6.30 p.m.
at Connemara Hotel, Chennai.
K. Srilata, Associate Professor, IIT, Madras will be in discussion with the author.
Hosts: Toto Funds the Arts in association with Tranquebar Press.
Thursday, 13 August 2009, 6.30 pm
Crossword Bookstore, ACR Towers, 32, Residency Road (G.F), Bangalore.
Novelist Usha K.R. will be in conversation with the author.
Chandrahas's review here; and the author in conversation with Aditi Machado here. Also Mridula Koshy's blog (which links to some of her stories available online).
Do go if you can. I wish I could.
Friday, August 07, 2009
...is when you buy yourself earmuffs, noseplugs and cocoon for nights and wellies (even in a failed monsoon) for the days.
It has often occurred to me in the last couple of weeks, that someone should invite Herzog to come and make a film on our neighbour building the mountain. The project has the right mix of lunacy, obsession and futility that would appeal to the man.
Wilderness Tips Part 1.