Thursday, September 24, 2009

potpourri post

I'm tempted to put a picture of a spinning top or something here and leave (it at that). But I won't, because a) it doesn't do to repeat oneself and b) it's not that I don't have things to blog about; just not enough time to lay them all out post by post.

So I'm going to do what Ludwig usually does.

1. Last things first: Some people are calling this a Lit Spat. I think that's a bit of a misnomer. If Bal had a larger point to make it is so large as to be invisible.

2. This is much better. Seriously.

These days, the debate over how to write about reading is a cold affair: a de-militarized zone. I avoid the terms literature and criticism here, and perhaps even debate is too hifalutin a word to describe what has amounted to a decades-long pissing match between creative writers and critics. The current steely silence is evidence only of empty bladders; the combatants have become preoccupied with internal skirmishes.

( the editors of the Quarterly Conversation respond to the essay). [via 3qd]

3. My recent hang-outs include: The Green Light Dhaba, The Plastic Graduate, The Last Resort (what is it with the kids? Why was I not like that?). Also a German blog that I just like to read, even if I can't understand a damn thing. And Sarah Jane.

4. By now everyone knows about Steve McCurry's blog, right? I think I landed up at Tom Pietrasik's blog from there. (while we're on the subject of photographs, go see Sydney chez BM).

5. There's something I'm forgetting, but not sure what. Will return to update, maybe, but mostly this should keep everyone occupied until I return (which is likely to be mid-November or thereabouts).

6. Oh, ya - I remembered. Don't forget to check out Mint's new Free Verse page every Saturday. Can't remember the last time a newspaper published poetry. So far there's Anjum Hasan (better read the poem here, since it's terribly formatted on livemint and not fixed yet), Chandrahas Choudhury, Aseem Kaul and Vivek Narayanan. Yay for Mint and a special thanks to Chandrahas, who has pushed hard for this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

RIP Meenakshi Mukherjee

It's still hard to believe. Meenakshi Mukherjee died this afternoon, on her way to the release of her new book in Delhi.

More later, when I can string my thoughts together.

The first obit here. [that was, apparently a beta page. Here's the link now]

9.15 pm: I'm still trying to say something useful but it all seems like a gross breach of privacy or is just too incoherent. I think I'm going to leave it at an announcement.

Launch of Arzee the Dwarf in Hyderabad

Chandrahas Choudhury's first novel, Arzee the Dwarf is being launched in Hyderabad on Saturday, 19th September.

I will be in conversation with Chandrahas and he will read from the book.


Saturday September 19, 5.30 pm
Crossword Bookstore,
City Center, 1st Floor, Shop No. 101-108,
Junction of Road No. 1 & 10,
Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500 034.

Those who got mails from me about Chandrahas' talk at the University of Hyderabad, please remember it has now been cancelled.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Revolution 09.09.09

Forget everything else about this day - you know what makes it memorable?

The release of The Beatles' Mono Box Set. It makes me apple green with envy, to think of all the people who can (and will) order it off Amazon (let's not talk 'afford' here, okay? I can give up plenty to be able to 'afford' this. I'm fanatical like that).

So now you know what's #3 on my wishlist.

'a purveyor of picong'

That's Michael Hofmann, comparing Frederick Siegel with Naipaul:

From the beginning, Seidel was always a bogeyman, a Bürgerschreck, an épateur—a carnivore if not a cannibal in the blandly vegan compound of contemporary poetry. He is a purveyor of picong, a Trinidadian term, “from the French piquant, meaning sharp or cutting, where the boundary between good and bad taste is deliberately blurred, and the listener is sent reeling.” (This, as good a description of Seidel as inadvertence or serendipity can come up with, is from The World Is What It Is, Patrick French’s outstanding new biography of V.S. Naipaul, and what a lot the authors of Ooga-Booga and A Bend in the River have in common: both of them Insider Outsiders, traveling compulsively on all five continents; sharing an unspeakably deep attraction to a sort of eighteenth-century squirearchy that may or may not be England; a fascination with Africa, with Joseph Conrad, with Islam; both are students of the remorseless spread of global capital and culture, the Gulf Stream of development and the countervailing El Niño of terror; both are equally at ease in fiction and non-fiction, and in a blurring of both; and last and far from least, both exhibit, and are proud of, an insouciant erotomania. Surely Seidel, never a professional poet, never a reviewer, reciter, promoter, or teacher of poetry, could put his name to Naipaul’s boast: “I have never had to work for hire; I made a vow at an early age never to work, never to become involved with people in that way. That has given me a freedom from people, from entanglements, from rivalries, from competition. I have no enemies, no rivals, no masters; I fear no one.” Both are barbed, solitary, aloof, alarming figures, becoming, if anything, less mellow with age, and more like their intrinsic fossil selves, jagged and serviceable, “sharp / And meek,” Seidel says somewhere—he does love his noses—“like the eyesight of the deaf.” Thomas Mann’s term Greisen-Avantgardismus—meaning something like “the experimental progressivism occasionally found in the very old”—suggests itself. We as readers are uneasily privileged to witness their bold, inflammatory, defamatory gestures—gestures we know there will never be time or second thought or pusillanimousness to take back.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

My Pratham books and Mindfields!

Five years after writing them, (and taking any mention of them off the back of the second edition of my book), my three books for children are finally out! These Pratham books have been so long in the making because they've been simultaneously translated into several languages, and I'm not sure how easily they'll be available in bookstores, but here's their website.

One book, The Flyaway Cradle, is for children between the ages of three and six. The other two - Cheenu's Gift and Phani's Funny Chappals - for early learners (7-10 year olds; these books are for first time learners and for children who are not used to reading books for fun because they don't have the resources for that kind of reading).


In other news, I've got my copy of the latest issue of Mindfields as well, to which I've contributed an article on K.

Quite apart from the fact that I've contributed to it, if you have kids or are generally interested in alternative education, consider this a plug for the magazine.


So it has been that sort of a day. As you can see.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

and i'm saying it.


just pushing posts down, marking time, taking space.

wondering what it would be like to grow up thinking the beatles' music was a big puzzle which can only be made sense of by watching taymor.

and waiting. (for nothing in particular. not even with anticipation.)


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

YA Loot

[because Aishwarya asked]

The Puffins first:

1. The 22 Letters. Clive King.
2. Fell Farm Campers. Marjorie Lloyd.
3. The Old Powder Line. Richard Parker.
4. Up the Pier. Helen Cresswell.
5. Pageants of Despair. Dennis Hamley.
6. Heartsease. Peter Dickinson.
7. The Extraordinary Adventures of The Mouse and his Child. Russel Hoban.
8. Flambards in Summer. K.M.Peyton (I used to love the Flambards books when I was in school).

Other YA books:

1. The Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson. (probably the only recent book in the loot).
2. A Northern Childhood: The Balaclava Story and other stories. George Layton.
3. The Nine Lives of Island MacKenzie. Ursula Moray Williams.
4. Legends of the Round Table. Adapted by Barbara Ker Wilson. (under 'W').
5. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Illustrated by Jiri Trnka.

Still more books:

1. Adam and Eve. Willie Rushton.
2. The Shaw Alphabet Edition of Androcles and the Lion. GBS. [it's a pain to read. What was the man thinking?!]