Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Reader's Journal

It's back to the library and back to reading!

First, On Beauty, where I kept flipping over to the jacket to look at Zadie Smith. Like her, Howard's End is a special favourite. I was reasonably engaged trying to draw parallels - Oh look, Kiki Margaret Schlegal! Carl is Leonard Bast! They even have a stealing scene - only a discman, not an umbrella! But just before it got too distracting, On Beauty found its own steam, its own relevance (ok - sounding pompous now!). EM Forster would have loved it.

Next, Engleby by Sebastian Faulks who I am definitely going to read a lot more of. Amazing. I loved the university setting. About halfway through I figured out which way the wind was blowing, but I suspect I was supposed to, though the clues were very subtle.

Picked up Marry Me as a tribute to John Updike. Should be ashamed to admit that I haven't read any of his work. Why Marry Me? Because it looked slim and non-threatening enough. I must admit I couldn't engage with it at all, though I read it diligently from end to end.

Have now almost finished Jahnavi Barua's Next Door collection of short stories. Growing up in Assam, obviously I was an outsider, but reading these very evocative tales makes me feel as though I too, belong. These tales are set in Lower Assam, while we were in its upper reaches. Maybe its the familiar ring that 'Barua' and 'Barun' have. Maybe its the description of the Brahmaputra as being as vast as the sea, which is exactly how I remember it, though I have only ever flown over it. Maybe its the descriptions of gardens and time spent outdoors, which is what I remember most from my childhood there. I know for a fact that anyone who has at least a nodding aquaintance with Assam will read these stories very differently from the rest!

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