Six books in seven days is not too bad. Books, as in proper non-graphic-novelly books.
Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.
Twice-22 By Ray Bradbury. A collection of short stories collecting two previous short-story releases- The Golden Apples of the Sun and A Medicine for Melancholy. I have read some of these stories before, “The Fog Horn”, for instance, but I just can’t get enough of re-reading Bradbury.
Carl Hiassen’s Skinny Dip. Entertaining as always. I loved the fact that I could figure out that the cover art was by Charles Burns.
Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Now an interesting thing happened. There are these book exhibitions happening at the Institute of Engineers from time to time, but of late I have been skipping them because of three reasons – one, the way they price their books is completely random – mostly it seems to be based on the thickness of a book, and not whether it’s good or bad;two, the books are completely unarranged. Which is good for your book-hunting impulses, but at the end of a terrible day at work, one hardly has the impulse to tilt one’s head sideways and walk from one end of a hall to the other trying to filter the white noise of titles ( 90% of the listed books are stuff you find at Abids on Sundays for 10 or 20 rupees, and I swear the next time I see five copies each of Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlertt and Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale in a stack of 100, I will scream.) ; three – if you get books for cheap, all the restraints, all the mental promises you’ve made not to spend any more money on books, all of these are forgotten. So yeah, I try my best to ignore these sales, even though I pass the Institute of Engineers every evening on my way home.
Now this evening, it was drizzling, and traffic was suckadelic. Traffic is always suckadelic and it nearly always rains in the evening, but it was even worse this time because I was on riding pillion on a bike. So there, we decided to park the bike at the I of E and check out the book-sale. We gave each other 10 minutes. Now as I went up, the sign said “Last day of sale”, which was good, I told myself, because I would not be able to come back for second helpings if I saw something interesting, and because they were only taking cash. So off I went, nonchalantly checking around. Truth be told, I wasn’t looking too hard, because most of the good stuff would already be sold. Saw a book of Marilyn Monroe pictures, priced at 195, but decided to skip it. Too high a price for photos, especially after I had downloaded a 140 MB package called “The Ultimate Marilyn Monroe Photographs Collection, Ever” just a couple of days back.
And then I saw the familiar logo of Fight Club staring at me, with Brad Pitt grinning and Edward Norton looking sullen and “Chuck Palahniuk” written in bold on top, and I said “hallelujah!” and went and checked out the price, which turned out to be just right. Sixty rupees is not a high price to pay for this book, yeah? Then at the counter, the guy tells me, buy one book, get another free. GLUCK! Ten minutes were almost up, so I ran a bit and looked around for something good that would cost me 60 Rs, but alas, the only ones I could see were Terry McMillan and long-read Stephen Kings and the odd Steve Martini here and there. Finally, just picked up the Marilyn book, and asked the guy to price something.
“Pay 150”, he says. Woah! Has to be the first time I paid lesser for two books than I would pay for buying one of them. Began reading Fight Club right that night, during dinner, and finished it the next morning. Yummy. Can’t believe how faithful the movie was – except for the nip and tuck there, which added to the goodness of it. Seriously, it would take guts to make a script out of this book.
Bollywood Uncensored: What You Don’t See On Screen And Why by Derek Bose. Pretty interesting reading on the peculiar quirks of Indian film censors. I liked the attention Bose paid to the banned documentaries of the seventies and eighties, with a neat comparison chart of what happened to those documentaries. ( Some were allowed to be telecast on Doordarshan by High Court and Supreme court, and others were shafted by DD anyway, when they aired these post-midnight.)
Tim Dorsey’s Hammerhead Ranch Motel, that I finished on the train ride to Madras day before yesterday. One sitting. Another writer in the crime/comedy genre, and a thoroughly loony one at that. For the most part, the storyline hops around from one oddball occurrence to the other, and as pages turn and timelines mesh, a completely zany series of events transpire – the climax, naturally, happening at the Hammerhead Ranch Motel. A dancing chihuahua who meets a tragic end when he jumps off a weather-plane, a trivia-spouting schizophrenic who kills people by literally making stuffing of them. From what I have read about Florida courtesy of Hiassen and now Dorsey, the state seems to be full of lunatics and corrupt officials and fugitives on the lam from the other states.
Because I had coupons for Premier Book Stall left over, went and picked up Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and Pratibha Ray’s Yagnaseni: The Story of Draupadi. Began the second book, really well-translated ( it was in Oriya originally, I think). If only Ashok Banker could write half as lyrically as Pradip Bhattacharya can translate, I would be a happy man.