Friday, November 29, 2013

The Sunday Haul

The short story collections on my book shelf have now grown to more than a dozen titles. It is still growing with one or two titles being added every two months or so. I am finding good titles at Abids and I have made it a point not to miss any collection of short stories by writers I haven’t heard about. Last Sunday I found a slim book- ‘Fast Lanes’ by Jayne Anne Philips- that turned out to be a collection of just seven short stories- How Mickey Made It, Rayme, Fast Lanes, Bluegill, Something That Happened, Blue Moon, and Bess . I haven’t ever heard of Jayne Anne Philips before but I did not hesitate to buy this title since I was getting it for only twenty rupees. It was worth more than that since the title story that I read first was very good.
One of the best things to happen in my life is coming across Dave Barry’s writing. Reading just one paragraph of his is enough to bring me back from the darkest of my moods and leave me in splits. The second find of Sunday was another title that I probably must have bought several copies of- Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits’’ by Dave Barry. I like this book tremendously and give it to anyone who appears interested after I tell him/her that Dave Barry is one of the funniest writers in the world. Recently I read his ‘Money Secrets’ that I had found at the Hyderabad Book Fair last year and needlessly to say it is very, very funny. ‘Boogers are My Beat’ is the only Dave Barry title I do not have and I hope I find it very soon somewhere.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Sunday Haul

Somewhere on the top of my ‘Most Wanted’ titles is Ted Lewis’s ‘Get Carter’ that I have been trying to find since a couple of years. Ever since I found a screenplay of ‘Get Carter’ I have kept my eyes peeled for the book whenever I go book hunting in Abids and elsewhere. So far I haven’t been able to find it but last Sunday I came close. I found ‘All the Way Home and All the Night Through’ which, I read somewhere, is the first novel written by Ted Lewis and also a title that is not very easy to find. I am quite pleased that I found this book at Abids and paid only thirty rupees for it.
The second find of Sunday was a crime fiction title by an author I haven’t heard before-Theodore Wilden. I picked up solely on the basis of the cover which was arresting and also had Eric Ambler’s endorsement on it. I hope it turns out to be a good read for the twenty five rupees I paid for it. The third find too I bought for the cover alone but this wasn’t any other book but a book of recipes. I got Chandra Padmanabhan’s ‘dakshin’ for just forty rupees. It was published in 1992 and looks quite attractive. I hope the recipes in it are just as good.
I read in the papers that an event that I eagerly wait for -the Hyderabad Book Fair- will be held this year from 7-15 December at NTR Stadium instead of the usual venue at People’s Plaza on Necklace Road. I am filled with excitement as well as with some trepidation because I do not know how many books I will find at the fair that I have to absolutely buy. I have already begun the countdown and I want to be there on the very first day. Since it would be in the first week of the month I’d be with a full wallet which means I can buy whatever book I like. But before that I have to somehow make space for all the books I plan to buy at the Book Fair.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Sunday Haul

Sometime in 2011 I had picked up ‘Stephen Fry in America’ by Stephen Fry, the humor writer, at Abids and about a couple of months back I finished reading. In it I came across a mention of John Berendt’s ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ and as is my habit I jotted down the title in my notebook. Last Sunday at Abids I found this book and bought it. It did not come cheap and I had to pay a hundred rupees for it. I have to start reading it one of these days.
During my first visit to Dehra Dun sometime in June this year I had found Bhabani Bhattacharya’s ‘Shadow from Ladakh’ at a second hand book store somewhere in the bazaars of Dehra Dun. I bought it because of two reasons- one was that it won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1967 and the other reason was that I got it for only twenty rupees. Even before I could read it I found another book by the same author at Abids last Sunday. This was a collection of short stories titled ‘Steel Hawk and Other Stories’ that I got for twenty rupees. It contains fifteen stories : Glory at Twilight, Public Figure, My Brave Great-Uncle, Lattu Ram’s Adventure, Names are Not Labels, Pictures in the Fire, Mere Monkeys, A Moment of Eternity, Just Coincidence?, The Acrobats, The Quack, The Faltering Pendulum, Pilgrims in Uniform, She, Born of Light, and Steel Hawk. This was published by Orient Paperbacks.
I am becoming rather fond of Orient Paperbacks because they have published so many good books in the past including all titles of my favorite writer, Arun Joshi. I found another Orient Paperback title along with ‘Steel Hawk’ which was Neela Padmanabhan’s ‘The Generations’ which was a translation from Tamil by Kaa Naa Subramanyam. I haven’t read much Tamil literature or Tamil writers except Ashokamitran. It is neither very long nor very short, but at 192 pages it seems to be readable in a day. Some day when I get a holiday I plan to read this book.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Double Post: 1- The Diwali Haul

The Sunday before last Sunday which was the day I had to go to the office I could go to the book bazaar at Abids for an hour or so only in the evening. During the one hour I spent there I managed to find just one book- Jean Genet’s ‘The Dairy of a Thief’ that I got for twenty rupees. It was an autobiography/memoir by Genet.
Last Sunday it was Diwali but we went to Abids nevertheless though all the shops were open. Surprisingly, almost all the book sellers were present putting up their wares in some corner or the other. Before I got to Abids, at Chikkadpalli I picked up the first find of the day. It was Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Secret Agent’ that I got for thirty rupees. At another seller at Chikkadpally I found the second book which was Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Italian Girl’ that I got for only ten rupees.
Later at Abids we had our usual cup of chai, talked for a while and cribbed about how ‘The Hindu’ had declared a holiday that day, which was the first Sunday of the month and unfairly deprived us of the pleasure of reading ‘The Literary Review’ that is brought out on that day. I wondered why The Hindu’’ could not have issued TLR on Saturday when it could issue the Classified Ad pages and Habitat supplements with the Saturday’s issue. It is proof that for the newspapers the advertisers matter more than the readers. Anyway, after some serious griping we left for our hunt for good titles.
Sometime last year I had found Jake Arnott’s ‘True Crime’ that I read and found to be very good. I had read then that he had written other books too but I did not expect to find any of his books and anyway I had forgotten all about him until Sunday when I came across another Jake Arnott titleby him. It was ‘The Long Firm’ that I found in a bunch of books being sold for just ten rupees.

Friday Dopuble Post: 2- On Getting an Award

Last Friday, on the occasion of AP Formation Day, I got an ├Źncentive Award’’ that I had the privilege of receiving from the Chief Minister himself at a public function. It was a big moment for me and I was happy especially since the award included twenty thousand rupees along with a certificate. This was the biggest award in my almost twenty years of service and I am very pleased that I got it since I can now retire with some satisfaction. The irony is that I never wanted to be in the Government service in the first place and I still do not want to. But since I’ve been here for two decades I guess I will hang on for another couple of years and then maybe take voluntary retirement. Afterwards, I want to travel and also write.
The Sunday before the previous Sunday you should have seen me, or more particularly, my face. You’d have seen the sullen face of someone who had been working round the clock for almost a week without a break, without anything of a social or a family life, of someone filled with resentment for having forced to work on holidays also, especially Sunday, of someone who isn’t eating properly at the proper times, of someone who isn’t sleeping well. It was the face of someone who was pissed off with what his work was extracting from him. Sunday was the day when this anger and resentment peaked since I was told I had to come to the office for the whole day. The week long rains and floods had turned my life upside down what with hundreds of calls to attend and hundreds of chores to manage. I did not mind all this because there were people out there actually suffering due to the continuous heavy downpour and floods. I did not know what was making me angry. Sometime recently when I sat and listed out the probable reasons I realized it was my mobile phone that was making me angry. Every time I got a call on the mobile phone or had to make a call I had to go out of my house and do it which filled me with unusual anger against Airtel. I do not understand how they can claim to offer coverage all over the country when I cannot get signals in the heart of the city.

Anyway, after I heard the news about the incentive award I calmed down. But I am not able to stop thinking how anyone thought I deserved the award when I did not do anything extraordinary and just did what I was expected to do.