HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARCEL PROUST!

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It’s not a belated birthday wish. It’s a continuing one. Breathing in the Proustian air is one of my most favorite stress-busters since the time I have been introduced to it. An air so rich yet so clear, it permeates into my lungs with its slight, caressing bend, filling me with a sense of beauty that no amount of dark inhalation can pollute. Proust was special, even as a child. Which 14 year old would scribble such answers to a random, vanilla questionnaire after all? Even if I squeeze my most refined juices, I won’t be able to drench his intellect an inch. Continue reading

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Borges and $: The Parable of the Literary Master and the Coin

What a fine peek into a genius’ mind, proving yet again…. everything beautiful is imperfect.

Longreads

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens | Longreads | June 2016 | 31 minutes (7,830 words)

Nothing is less material than money. . . . Money is abstract, I repeated, money is future time. It can be an evening in the suburbs, it can be the music of Brahms, it can be maps, it can be chess, it can be coffee, it can be the words of Epictetus teaching us to despise gold. Money is a Proteus more versatile than the one on the island of Pharos.

—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Zahir”

I fell in love with Jorge Luis Borges when I was a freshman in college. That year, full of hope and confusion, I left my hometown for the manicured quads of Brown University, desperately seeking culture—art, beauty, and meaning beyond the empty narrative of wealth building that consumes our world. It is easy to look back and see why Borges spoke…

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Book Review: Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (1941)

chess-story-novelChess Story by Stefan Zweig

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Wanting to play chess against yourself is a paradox, like jumping over your own shadow.”

But what fun is life if words like manic, insanity, paradox and contradiction are not put to test once in a while? Even at the cost of years of discipline and rationality?

Stefan Zweig surely put his own constructs up the wall when he created this ingenious piece of art. Yes, it was pure art; outright splendid form of art that overwhelms the realms of conventional thinking and forces the mind to stretch itself.

A World Chess Champion, heralded as one of the best ever to play the game, in his casual quest of pocketing a few dollars, enroute to a tournament, encounters a sudden change of fortune, when a remarkable twist of moves from a rather ordinary looking, albeit a tad hysterical, middle-aged man, hands him his first defeat in many years. Continue reading

Book Review: Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (2001)

Family MattersFamily Matters by Rohinton Mistry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.

Flipping through the pages, my heart leaped many times; those waves bearing the ring of countenance were from still stream but the ones with ripples of accusation roared thunder. Accusation? Accusation hurled towards whom? The fictional characters delicately brought to life by the stinging brush of the author or the guilty, manipulative, egocentric, conceited character of mine? Did my fingers pause typing these words defining myself? They did. And it also confirmed my worst fears: I am no angel and the pristine white enveloping me is a well-fabricated dwelling that I carry with temporary aplomb, aware somewhere deep inside that some of its bricks are turning cancerous by my vices.  Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!

Ah! It is your birthday, once again and an excuse for me to celebrate all that I have loved about your pen! The riches you have amassed over your lifetime make it almost unfair to other authors; I mean who can fill such huge boots? Not that the reader in me complains! I first read your work when I was a kid, 8 years perhaps? But I clearly remember the thrill that ran in my blood while reading King Lear. Experiencing that enmeshing of relationships to highlight various emotions driving life and gathering them all into a few pages of brilliant, dripping prose was scintillating! And since I shared a wonderful buddy-relationship with my father, the experience was heightened as I did a joint-reading with him. I read that work twice and I remember, discovering more meaning on my second reading. The book was a part of a thin collection of a few of your works (The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and a few others) and by the time I finished them all, I was ready to relish more.  Continue reading

Book Review: Bonsaï by Alejandro Zambra (2006)

BonsaïBonsaï by Alejandro Zambra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What does a resonating journal do? Arrest us in the powerful aura of words? Dispatch us to the comforting cocoon of our memories? Render a blanket of dignity to our failures? Exhort our fledgling dreams to a palpable fruition? Cast a succor net on our isolated struggles? Attest our timidity as a prelude to stronger days?

For me, it’s essentially about reading about a distant ‘me’, the identity of this ‘me’ to be an inhabitant of past corridors or a tenant of future roads being inconsequential. As long as I detect a shade of me in the journal’s evocation, I am obsessed to read till the last drop of ink has faded. And Zambra doesn’t do anything much, besides telling me a story about Julio, who could well be sitting across me in this cafe and reciting the content, verbatim.  Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY!

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I am sorry I fell sick and the birthday wish comes a tad belated, 6 days to be precise. But it is nigh impossible to have a week pass by without sending across my shout to you, Mr. D! You absolutely know how special you are, don’t you? That skill you have, ah! How envious am I of it? That wizardry of turning the mirror to reflect my darkest corners yet ensuring I never break the mirror in disgust! How clever, dear Sir! That surreptitious landing that you never fail to slip in, that soft cushion that you provide my feeble self while I stare agape at the unpleasant edges of my personality in your works – they all have a certain paternal feel to it. You are a wise elder whom I would love to share with people I think and wish good of. And even those I kind of don’t like all that much, so they fine-tune themselves to enter into my friends’ club! 😉  Continue reading