Friday, January 25, 2013

At the Hyd Lit Fest

For the second year running I’ve managed to attend the HLF that seems to be moving further away from the city. The first year the venue was the OU, last year it was Taramati Baradari almost on the outskirts and this year it was MANUU which is miles away from anywhere. This must have been one of the reasons why there were thin crowds at the HLF on the two days I went. Due to work and a major function that I had to attend I missed the first day of HLF and thereby missed Hari in conversation with Anita Nair.

In a session on Saturday in the morning Narendra Luther, the grand old chronicler of Deccan regaled the audience with some interesting anecdotes about the erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad. In another event that followed I got to learn about some fascinating tales about and from the Ramayana from Paula Richman. After lunch I was in a session where Mridula Koshy read from her latest novel ‘Not Only The Things That Have Happened’ that I planned to buy and get it signed by her. However, I couldn’t gather the nerve to approach her so I gave up the idea. Sometime soon I will buy the book and read it since I have liked the stories in her collection ‘If It is Sweet.’ Next event I sat through was about movies and the media where Krishna Devulapally (Ice Boys in Bell Bottoms) was on the panel. His second book ’Rally Days and Disco Nights’ would be out soon and I am looking forward to it since I enjoyed the humor in IBBB.

On Sunday morning giving my Abids trip a miss I went by bus to MANUU and by the time I reached Anvar Ali Khan had already started his conversation with Vinod Mehta. The editor held forth on the media, politicians and others in his inimitable style that drew a lot of chuckles and also applause. Then there was the discussion on media after lunch where Dinesh D’Souza, Gunjan Veda and Aarthi Ramchandran talked about Bharat/India and whether there really was any such differentiation. They were all creative people, articulate and very inspiring except for two writers that I won’t name here who were very pushy and sort of off-putting with their screechy and shrill talk.

On the whole it was an enjoyable event and made me think of going to Chennai for the Lit for Life event sometime in the third week of February.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sunday Super Haul

A couple of times in the past there have been days when all I found were books, books and only books. I remember a day in the late 90’s when I returned from Abids with about a dozen books in hand. More recently I found half a dozen good books all at Abids. Last Sunday also my life was flooded with books,six books in all - two at Abids, three given by Hari and one that I found at a book store.

Sunday morning turned out to be a pleasant one, mildly sunny and permeated with a festive atmosphere because of Sankranthi. We (me, Uma and Shrikant) gathered at our usual Irani for a cup of chai and talk about books before setting out to find more books as if we do not have enough already. After nearly two hours of browsing I picked up only one book- Scott M. Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ that I have decided to read this year after coming across it too often in several places. However, the second find was at Chikkadpalli while I was returning home. At one of the sellers in Chikkadpally I saw ‘Problems and Other Stories’ by John Updike. The book was in good condition and has twenty three stories- Commercial, Minutes of the Last Meeting, The Gun Shop, How to Love America and Leave It at the Same Time, Nevada, Son, Daughter, Last Glimpses of Ethiopia, Transaction, Separating, Agustine’s Concubine, The Man Who Loved Extinct Mammals, Problems, Domestic Life in America, Love Song, for a Moog Synthesizer, From the Journal of a Leper, Here Come the Maples, The Fairy Godfathers, The Faint, The Egg Race, Guilt Gems, and Atlantises. But the book did not come cheap. I paid fifty rupees which I think is worth it.

In the evening I met Hari at Minerva for coffee and a long overdue chat. He gave me two books on writing that were once the property of our common friend J.R. Jyoti, an indefatigable writer and a gentlemen who passed away sometime back. His son Sunil Jyoti kindly let us have dozens of writing books and magazines that formed a minuscule part of the thousands of books owned by Jyoti sir. While Hari went for the books on writing I picked up old issues of Writer’s Digest. Afterwards we ambled to Landmark where there was an offer of three books for the price of two. Hari wanted to buy titles that he wanted to read and made use of the offer by buying two books for himself and the third for me which was quite generous of him considering the fact that the price was Rs 299. That was how I got Saul Bellow’s ‘Collected Stories’ as my fifth book of the day. ‘Collected Stories’ has thirteen stories- By the St. Lawrence, A Silver Dish, The Bellarosa Connection, The Old System, A Theft, Looking for Mr. Green, Cousins, Zetland, By a Character Witness, Leaving the Yellow House, What Kind of Day Did You Have/, Mosby’s Memoirs, Him with His Foot in His Mouth, Something to Remember Me By.

Later I happened to drop in at Himalaya Book Stores near the Punjagutta flyover to buy a Mathematics textbook for my son. I happened to notice a collection of books on a shelf that were for sale at a discount. Nestled in the middle of a stack at the bottom of the shelf was Robert. B. Parker’s ‘Small Vices’ that I pulled out eagerly. I was glad to see that it was a Spenser title and was a hardcover edition though not in pristine condition. The jacket was torn but otherwise it was okay. I was in a dilemma for a second- to buy it or not because after discount the price came to Rs 180. Needless to say, I bought it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The New Year;'s Haul, HLF and The Literary Review

The New Year Haul
It would probably be impossible or very difficult for me to finish reading the 300 + books lying around in my house in the near future unless I stop buying books every week and adding to the pile. If I were younger I’d not have felt any anxiety but since I’ll be touching 50 soon I do not think I can spare much time reading books. Hence I plan to read only those books that must be read. Afraid that I’d pick up more books if I go to Abids, last Sunday I almost did not go. However, I went not wishing to miss the Abids trip on the first Sunday of the New Year.

Though I had resolved that if at all I had to buy I’d buy just one book. I bought just one book that I got for only fifty rupees. I like to read good crime fiction and have books by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Jo Nesbo, and other writers. However, I have not made any special efforts to learn about other writers who might be writing equally good books. Somewhere I had seen the name ‘James Ellroy’ but did not buy any book though I came across a few titles of his. Last Sunday I found ‘The Big Nowhere’ by James Ellroy that I felt I had to buy especially after I read the blurb on the front cover that reads ‘One of the Great American Writers of our time’ by LA Times Book Review. It was a good copy but too lengthy for my taste with nearly four hundred pages. It was mine for fifty rupees only.

Hyderabad Literary Festival & The Literary Review
It is in the news that the Hyderabad Literary Festival would be held from January 18 to 20 at MANUU which is somewhere very far away. I had been to last year’s event at Taramati Baradari with Hari and had an interesting time. However it looks like I may not be able to attend this year owing to work. (I’m still No.2.) I am very eager to go this year too since the list of participants has Vinod Mehta, Sekhar Kammula and others. But I have to see how things work out. Maybe I can attend on the last day which happens to be a Sunday. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Though I might miss HLF I do wish to attend ‘The Hindu Lit for Life’ at Chennai sometime in February 2013 that I read about in this month’s “Literary Review’ in The Hindu.

This month’s ‘Literary Review’ had an interview with Jerry Pinto whose articles I like very much. I am thinking of buying his book ‘Em and the Big Hoom’ and read it because it appears to be quite good from what I could gather from the reviews I read in the past. In his column ‘The Creative Writer’ Vikram Kapur bemoans the lack of memorable cricket fiction especially in the country. I do not know if he has heard about Hari’s ‘The Men Within’ which is a novel based entirely on cricket and also made into a Telugu movie ‘Golkonda High School’ that was also good.

Another interesting piece of news was about the ‘The Hindu Lit for Life’ event in February 2013, half at Delhi and the concluding session in Chennai on 16 and 17th February. I want to attend this event if possible. God knows what will happen by then.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Sunday Haul- Adding to the 2012 Tally

By the time I posted about the 2012 book haul last Friday I had bought 93 books in all during the year and I did not expect to add anymore to the pile. However, I had not intended to pick up any books at Abids on the last Sunday of the year but merely to browse and return empty handed. In fact I had almost given the Abids trip a miss but there I was at Abids though my two friends couldn’t make it. The last Sunday of the year was no different from the previous ones except that it was a sunny day and bode well for those looking for a good book to take home.

Two minutes into the lonely hunt I came across a book that was in my ‘To Read’ list. I had read a review of ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls somewhere on the net sometime last year that said the book was worth a read. I did not expect to find it. It was quite a surprise to spot the book on top of a heap of books. It was a brand new copy and without any blemish. I got it for forty rupees. The book has also been made into a movie it seems which is another reason to have bought the book. Only thing is I have to find time to read it.

The second find of the Sunday was a copy of the classic, ‘The Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen, that I have read more than a couple of times ever since I bought it several years ago. It is a timeless book that transports one to a different world. I have two copies of the book but I bought this copy for a friend. Another motivating factor in buying the book was that it was for sale for twenty rupees only. It was a pretty good copy without any fault save a small tear on the cover which isn’t such a big thing when all the pages between the covers are intact and in good condition.

With these two books the 2012 haul goes up to ninety five books which is still far less than what I had bought in the previous couple of years.