On one of those nights when you usually look for something on TV to watch along with your dinner, I came across a news channel’s panel discussion – a rare well-moderated session on pornography. Certain members of a state government had been caught watching porn mid-assembly, and there were heated discussions across channels. There were only 2-3 people on this particular panel whose opinions were intelligent and nuanced, and one of them was Delhi-based vascular surgeon Dr. Ambarish Satwik. But I was more than intrigued when I heard he was also an author of pornographic fiction. Naturally, I had to check him out, and Google scrolled up the tantalisingly titled Perineum: Nether Parts of an Empire. I knew I had to get it.
Also, the guy is hot. Yeah, I’m shallow like that.
Apart from this Tehelka review, and an interview in The Hindu, nothing much of either Ambarish or the book is on the internet. Several online booksellers offer customer reviews at most, but nothing really detailed enough to give you an idea of where this book could sit on your bookshelf. Is it literary? Is it historical fiction? Is it light reading / popular fiction? None of those questions were answered for me when I decided to purchase it.
Also, book blurbs – overburdened and vague at best – label Satwik’s writing as “feverish fictions lit by Kafka, stage-managed by Manto” (by Mukul Kesavan). Another description inside says he concocts a “Borgesian fictional labyrinth” that just made me scoff in disbelief.
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So over the last few months, I have been obsessing over a Soviet/Ukranian/Polish writer from the 1920s. He’s only been brought out of KGB cold storage into publication in the 80s, and translated into English only in the last 4-5 years. Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, along with zhis unpronounceable last name, was a Pole, born in Ukraine who wrote entirely in Russian and never saw his work published in his lifetime.
Most of the stuff I have seen around the web are reviews of K’s set of short stories (Memories of the Future also out as Seven Stories ), seven of which are in translation and circulation. But there’s hardly much on the Internet about my favourite from the lot: The Branch Line. Read the rest of this entry →
I started a new job last week in a suburb called Nunawading and came across this little piece of Nunawading that elicited both promise and despair — McLeods Books.
I stepped out of the railway station, and this little gem stared at me from across Station Street, beckoning like a houri to the afterlife (non-conglomerated bookstores tend to affect me that way).
The display window should have given me a hint, but I thought the owner may just be creativity impaired.(If you’re any kind of bibliophile like I am, the following images can be very disturbing.)
No premonition from that whatsoever, but I walked in. Assailed by the scent of old paper and ink, I was speechless from the sight.
There was no order, no rhyme or reason to how the books had been shelved. Dostoevsky sat next to Nora Roberts. Historical tomes were piled next to a shelf of erotica. Books tumbled like the Tower of Babel felled by a mysterious wind.
And then the clincher — an old man, ancient as the Diamond Sutra, and no doubt the owner of the shop, sitting on a creaking chair at a creepy nook amidst this sea of books doing what? No prizes for guessing — WATCHING AFTERNOON TELEVISION. 😐
Oh, I could have cried then.
Instead I disappear to some other obscure cranny to click these pictures.
On my way out, I notice a sign by the door stating “We are not buying any more books unless a sale of $10 or more”. There’s a good sales tactic.
I wondered if I could ask him to hire me to revamp McLeods. I’d take crappy pay and overtime work hours for that job any day.