Posts Tagged ‘Pradeep Sebastian’

Picking books by name and a hitchhiker’s guide to the library

February 2, 2008

Navtej Sarna thinks that Heinrich Boell’s Billiards at half past nine is an object lesson in the craft of writing. While writing about the book, he also talks about something that we have been discussing in this blog and at Brain Drain, namely, who picks the title of a book and what role, if any, does it play in our choosing them to read:

When authors and editors put their heads together to decide on the name for a book, it is not an idle moment. The name, perhaps more than anything else, will define the book, attract the eye or strike a resonance, at least at first encounter.

My bookshelf is sprinkled with books bought because their names touched off a particular chord, brought back some shadowy time or promised a longer look at an evanescent haunting image. At least three of these books have been holding out a long overdue invitation to be read, an invitation that I seem to have resisted, ironically for the same reason that I bought them. Their names are so attractive and their appeal so romantic that any disappointment on their actually being read would be multiplied manifold.

Take a look!

In the same issue of Literary Review in which Sarna’s piece appears, Pradeep Sebastian, in his Endpaper column, talks about a book of erudite literary lunacy; along the way, he also tells about a book that was rejected 76 times before getting published:

If you’re not already a fan of the Thursday Next series, welcome to the parallel literary universe of author Jasper Fforde where that seminal dream of every bibliophile — the desire to step into the universe of a favourite book — comes true.

The Eyre Affair, the first Thursday Next novel, was rejected 76 times before Penguin snapped it up. Like the alternative universes in his books, his work crosses many genres: mystery, fantasy, science fiction, meta-fiction. Thursday, a woman in her mid-thirties, lives with her pet dodo, Pickwick, and is a literary detective in the real world who finds herself immersed in this bizarre ‘bookworld’.

His books come with DVD-like extras: deleted scenes, the making of, and many special features. How could a book, you ask, possibly contain this? The extras are stored in Fforde’s richly imagined and very expansive website where a password (usually the name of a character from the book in question) usually leads you to all these added DVD-like features. Other kinds of inter-textual whimsy run riot through his books: the endpapers carry bookplates, illustrations, and even advertisements (holiday character-exchange programmes: Rhet Butler and Scarlett inviting you to Tara for the weekend).

And, there is more in Sebastian’s piece; go take a look — right away!

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Tamil cinema: finally grown up?

January 12, 2008

That is the verdict that Pradeep Sebastian hands out in the Hindu:

There is plenty that is still disturbing about even new Tamil cinema: endless violence, obnoxious attitude to women, and ingratiating tropes. What is cause for celebration, though, is that this vibrant new cinema in Tamil is not at its culmination but is just beginning. Already in “Kalloori” there is no violence, no caste politics, and no item numbers. It certainly feels like Tamil cinema has finally grownup, turned a corner, and gone beyond old Kollywood.

I still am not able to make up my mind about whether growing up means pushing violence and caste politics under the rug (because, they are, at some level, part of Tam-land life); however, I can see Sebastian’s view point since more often than not those issues were/are often exploited by directors than treated in a frank and forthright fashion without missing the nuances. As far item numbers go, again, tastefully made songs can be great too. However, having not seen any Tamil film for nearly two years, I am not able to come to any conclusions on my own. In any case, irrespective of whether you agree with Sebastian in his conclusions or not, the piece is worth a look!

Sunday afternoon lit-links

October 7, 2007

How to read

Ravi Vyas, in the Classics Revisited column in the Hindu literary review writes about Virginia Woolf’s Common Reader:

When every essay is a classic in itself and the range so wide, where and how does one begin? One could highlight some of the essays in each volume, quote some extracts and then leave it to you to take it from there if you are so inclined. So, here it goes.

Vyas then goes on to list four must-reads from the first volume, and one from the second volume. As the regular readers of this blog know, I am a great fan of Common Reader too; it is one of those books which will have such a profound influence on you that your tastes and appreciation of books can neatly be divided as Pre- and Post-CR.

We are like that only!

Navtej Sarna writes an Open Letter to Sir Naipaul:

Wisdom dictates that one should step aside when titans clash…only, in this case, all the other titans are conveniently dead. Life is short, Mr. Naipaul, don’t tell us anymore whom you don’t like. Instead, tell us, is there anyone you like at all? I have a feeling that will not need another book. Probably a one-liner will suffice.

And, ends his letter with a parting request:

Just one parting request: if this country is so hopeless, its literature so bankrupt, its literary soul so vacuous, then why not just let us be? You see, we are like this only.

What and all Sarna writes in his letter, and what, what comments he makes, they are all simply superb-yaar. You have to read it, I tell you.

Intriguing, compelling, satisfying book

Pradeep Sebastian, in his Endpaper column discusses a book that he finds

the most intriguing, compelling, satisfying book about books published in a long, long time.

Knowing Pradeep Sebastian, such a high praise means that it must be a must-read among must-reads.

Happy reading!